Most of the Philadelphia Eagles' draft was focused on defense, as we kind of assumed it would be. But some interesting things happened after the draft at running back. The Eagles picked Kansas State's Bryce Brown in the seventh round, and signed Washington's Chris Polk as an undrafted free agent. Both are highly regarded talents whose draft stock fell because of other concerns -- attitude issues in Brown's case, and injury issues in Polk's. It's entirely possible that neither one ever sniffs a real NFL game, but given their skills the Eagles felt it was worth taking the chance to add quality depth and options to their backfield. Eagles coach Andy Reid was speaking specifically about Brown when he had this to say about the team's running back situation, according to the team's web site:
"We'll see how it goes. We're good with young guys and we'll see how that works out. With Dion Lewis, I would have liked to have gotten him a little more time last year as we went on. I didn't end up doing that, and I probably overplayed LeSean McCoy a little bit, even though he doesn't want to hear that. As he continues to get older and have the number of reps under his belt that he does, you'll want to back off the number of reps that he does."
So... does that mean Reid wants to cut back on McCoy's carries in 2012? Are the Eagles gong to a running back committee? Is McCoy's fantasy draft stock about to plummet?
Unlikely. Please take into account a couple of things when reading into Reid's comments:
First, the Eagles are currently in the midst of contract negotiations with McCoy. Surely, a large part of McCoy's argument is the significance of the role he plays in the Eagles' offense. He had 60.9 percent of the team's rush attempts last year (the eighth-highest such figure in the league), and while his 48 catches ranked fifth on the team in 2011, he did lead the team in receptions in 2010 with 78. McCoy gets a lot of work, and this part of his argument is a strong one. Publicly hinting that the plan might be to give him less of a percentage of the overall offense could be a bit of a negotiating tactic on the part of Reid.
Second, Reid's comment about overusing McCoy in 2011 probably says more about the disappointment that was veteran backup Ronnie Brown than it does about any future plans for McCoy. The Eagles likely wanted to give more reps to their backup running back in 2011, but couldn't because Brown wasn't playing well enough to justify them.
As brilliant as McCoy is, there's little doubt that Reid and the Eagles would like him to take on fewer than 60 percent of the team's carries in future seasons. That's a big workload, and McCoy isn't just some mule you ride until he's done and then replace. He's a dynamic, exciting, multi-talented playmaker who matters to their passing game, and is a big part of helping their offense work the way it's supposed to work. To maximize McCoy's value to the team in this and future seasons, it would be wise to keep an eye on his workload. The young running backs the Eagles picked up Saturday evening could represent fresh-legged options for keeping McCoy himself fresh. I think that's all Reid was saying there.