Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
A look at the players opposing teams hate to see with the ball in their hands in the open field.
Darren Sproles is simply a terror.
All 5-foot-6-inch, 181 pounds of him.
Yes, he may not look like much on a football field, but the diminutive Sproles can drop opponents to their knees and cause opposing coaches to go back to the drawing board.
Sproles is one of the best players in the open field in the NFL.
“We want to get Darren in space,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said.”He’s pretty hard to stop in space.”
Nearly every game he plays, Sproles inflicts major damage in the open field. He is ultra fast, shifty and he jukes would-be tacklers like none other. Sproles can change directions in a flash and because of his size he is difficult to see when he has a lead blocker.
Sproles can beat opponents in so many ways. He is effective as a rusher, receiver and on kick and punt returns. He has touchdowns running, receiving and on a punt return this season. He also has a 66-yard kick return.
Just get Sproles the ball and enjoy the show.
There are some solid players in this division who are also difficult to stop. Denver receivers Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal are monsters with the ball in their hands for different reasons. The large, strong Marshall is nearly impossible to bring down.
Royal has defense-splitting speed. When healthy, Oakland running back Darren McFadden has potential to be an open-space terror, but Sproles is a special case.
Get Sproles in the open field, and you’re going to get six points.