"Captain McCoy" announced his arrival Wednesday.
Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is a team captain for the first time — and is relishing every minute of it.
"I look forward to having a 'C' on my chest Sunday," McCoy said. "I owe it to my teammates. They voted for me, so it's my duty to go out every week and every day, on the field, off the field, going about things the right way to the best of my ability for my teammates."
McCoy spoke to the media for the first time since the start of training camp in advance of Sunday's season opener against Baltimore. As he did at the start of camp, McCoy mostly avoided talking about the ongoing police investigation in Georgia centered on the July 10 alleged assault of his ex-girlfriend, Delicia Cordon, in a house he owns. Police in Milton, Ga., said they had no new information to provide. No suspects have been named in the case.
"I'll take care of that stuff, but right now, what I've got to worry about is the Baltimore Ravens," he said. "I'm keeping everything the same with that. This is a big week for me, Week 1. I didn't have a lot of playing time in the preseason, so I'm really locked in and trying to focus everything on right now. We'll take care of that."
A civil lawsuit filed by Cordon, remains open, according to court records in Georgia. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Washington Post on Monday that "there's been no change to his status," meaning McCoy will be available Sunday.
"Nothing's changed along those lines," coach Sean McDermott said Saturday. "Separate of that, we as a team talk about general distractions that can come up during the year and there's always things that come up during a season. … We have a lot of respect for those things, but it's important that we stay focused on what we need to stay focused on and the team stays together."
McCoy says he's ready for his typical heavy workload, even if a minor groin injury cut into his preseason work.
"I feel fine," he said. "It feels good to get back out here with my teammates, running around a little bit. I had a couple days on the field of getting that full football shape of the plays. I was OK, and I'll be fine in time for game time on Sunday. I've just got to get myself mentally ready, physically doing the right things off the field in the training room with extra conditioning and cardio. I'll be ready to go."
McDermott reiterated Wednesday what he has said on a few different occasions this summer: McCoy looks faster and stronger at 30 years old than he did a year ago.
"It's the day-to-day approach to his craft," McDermott said. "He comes in early in the morning, wants to learn, wants to have a firm grasp of our offense and the defense he's going to face, particularly this week with the Ravens, a very good defense. Just the way he then performs on the field with the effort. You see him take hand-offs just like I do and he's taking a handoff that doesn't appear to be different from a normal handoff, but he's taking it and going 20, 25 yards every time he gets the ball in his hands; that really speaks to his habits on the field, which I think are outstanding."
McCoy topped 10,000 career rushing yards last season — his third in Buffalo — and has his sights set on 12,000 yards next. That's a motivation, as is showing the "30" age barrier does not apply to him.
"Just working hard, finding ways to push myself," McCoy said. "Just putting extra work in. People take a lot of shots at running backs, 30 years old, it's always a question. I feel like every year, I get it lately, so it's something extra driving me. If it's chasing different things, yardage, wins, you name it, whatever it is, I always try and find something to get myself going."
McCoy played sparingly in the preseason, rushing just four times for 11 yards. All of those attempts came in the second game against Cleveland — McCoy sat out every other preseason contest.
"Typically, I never really play good in the preseason to be honest," McCoy said. "It's one of those things where you know you're getting out and you've got to go out there, but you want to be as cautious as possible, but you kind of want to dial in and pick up all your keys — fundamentally be sound. I just think I didn't really play well, but that's kind of my normal preseason.
"It was good to get out there and get a little rust off. I'm not the type of player, honestly, where I need certain reps, whether it's in practice or in the preseason, to get the workload and some of that rust off. Once that game hits, I'm dialed in, I'm prepared. I was preparing myself, even when I wasn't playing, for Baltimore. This is Week 1, but this probably like Week 2 and some days for me, preparation wise."
McCoy finished with a career-low 4.0 yards per carry last season, the lowest of his career. Skeptics would say that could be a sign of things to come at 30, which McCoy is well aware of.
"That's how it goes," he said. "I take the good with the bad. My yardage was down a yard, so I might be losing. If it goes up a yard, if it's 5.1 or something like that, it's 'oh my god, how's he doing that, what's he eating, where's he training at?' It's up and down. I don't pay too much attention to that because the players around me know, the defenses we play against, they know.
"Having 4.0 yards a carry is one thing, but every week, there's no secret; the defense knows the game plan they have to do to stop me. It is what it is. I just have to find ways to motivate myself and that's one of them. How can I have a better productive year than last year?"
One of McCoy's goals in 2018 is limiting his negative runs.
"It's the little stuff, especially on my game," he said. "I always looked up to, growing up, Barry Sanders. As great as he was, they criticized him for dancing too much or taking too many negative yards. They criticized him, I'm all right. I'll be all right."