Especially catching the football. He worked hard in that department, getting maximum use out of the Jugs machine, but now it’s a mental game.
“I feel like I have a different set of hands,’’ Williams said of his 18 receptions, good for 130 yards after not catching a pass his senior year at Boston College. “I feel like I have a better grasp on how the catching mechanism is supposed to work.’’
Now comes Step 2.
“It’s not really anything physical, it’s mental,’’ Williams said. “You come into the league and it’s like, ‘I was catching passes from college quarterbacks, but now this is Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, who is throwing balls to Odell Beckham who has something crazy going on with his hands. He can catch them with one hand and I couldn’t even begin to think of how to accomplish that. It’s definitely a mental game, just having confidence that you are capable of it. Once you have that then you can really start working on actually catching the ball.’’
The story added that Williams is an intelligent player and is going to pick the brains of veteran running backs like Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy this offseason, along with his continuing dialogue with Giants’ veteran back Rashad Jennings. Any improvement in the pass-catching game could give Williams the edge to a more significant role next year. Jennings is approaching old age in terms of RBs (will be 30 in March) and was banged up in 2014.
Monday, December 29, 2014, 12:47pm
Traded to the Eagles last offseason by the New Orleans Saints, Darren Sproles was supposed to create a dynamic backfield with Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy. Together, the two were supposed to be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
A vision that never came to fruition.
"I feel we could have done more," Sproles said of playing with McCoy, "but I don't know."
"Have us on the field the same time more," Sproles said of what he would like to see next season. "Have me do more routes out of the backfield."
Sproles was on the field for 344 total snaps in his first season with the Eagles. Of those 344 snaps, Sproles shared a backfield with McCoy only 38 times. The two were successful during their limited time together, as the offense averaged 6.5 yards per play this season with both McCoy and Sproles on the field, the story said. Sproles had double-digit touches the team's first two games but then the touches got less and less as the weeks went on. He did miss a game because of a knee injury. Sproles didn't catch a ball in three games this year and in two of those he wasn't even targeted.
McCoy initially feared it was something serious, based on the way he went down. Other players knelt around him, hoping it wasn't. McCoy eventually arose and limped off the field on his own power. He wanted to go back into the game, but the clock was winding down by that point.
The Eagles' Pro Bowl running back avoided a scare. The question now is whether that was his final carry with the team.
That question might seem absurd considering that McCoy, 26, rushed for 99 yards on Sunday to finish with 1,319 yards this season. It was the second-highest rushing total of his career, with both seasons coming under Chip Kelly. He was named to his third Pro Bowl in six seasons last week.
But McCoy is due to be paid $9.75 million with a salary-cap number of $11.95 million in 2015. That's a hefty price for a running back, and McCoy admitted that his future goes through his mind sometimes - especially after the Eagles jettisoned DeSean Jackson last offseason.
McCoy said he wants to stay and seems open to restructuring his contract after a down year. HC Chip Kelly came out Sunday and said he wants Shady back in the fold for 2015, so a departure seems unlikely at this point.
Monday, December 8, 2014, 8:33am
The usually jovial McCoy, who even finds a way to crack a smile after losses, appeared lost in his own thoughts, and disinterested in the questions being asked. At the time, although odd, it was easy to explain away as disappointment over his 50-yard performance in his team's 24-14 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
"Just didn't focus today," McCoy explained. "Wasn't there."
Later, he would explain further why his head was elsewhere both during his post game media session, and during the team's loss.
“I really wanted to play great in his name today," McCoy explained to Birds 24/7". "I didn’t."
Who did McCoy want to play great for? That would be McCoy's cousin, who the running back tragically lost due to an automobile accident late last week. The death was the reason McCoy missed practice on Friday, which at the time was explained only as personal reasons by the team.
It's hard to tell if that really had an affect on McCoy's play in Week 14. He lost a very key fumble on the opening possession of the second half. But it was a tough matchup coming in and McCoy has been up and down much of this season. McCoy's potential for Week 15 looks much brighter - a home, prime time matchup against Dallas.
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6:38pm
"Am I the same player? That's for you to figure out," McCoy said before leaving the podium. "That's crazy. Am I the same player? Yeah, I'm the same player.''
That assessment isn't showing up in the box score, but it was backed up by center Jason Kelce on Friday.
"I think LeSean is the same running back as he was last year," Kelce said on 94WIP. "I don’t think he’s changed one bit."
As to why McCoy's average per carry has dropped from 5.1 to 3.7, Kelce said the blame falls on the offensive line.
“Every running back is going to miss a few [holes],” Kelce said. “LeSean isn’t missing anymore [holes] than he did last year...I think the biggest thing is that we haven’t given him the amount of opportunities and the holes that he was given last year."
McCoy has been hounded by local media as to whether or not he's lost a step after a down season from 2013. He's also none-to-pleased to answer the question. Those who follow the team, for the most part, don't think McCoy has lost anything. The general feeling teams are trying to take away McCoy and make the Eagles beat them with the pass, something Nick Foles has struggled to do this season and Mark Sanchez wasn't great last week against Green Bay. Owners keep waiting for McCoy to bust out but that may not happen if defenses continue to play McCoy the way they apparently have.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014, 9:35am
Something still is wrong with the Eagles' running game, 2 weeks into the return of Evan Mathis from an MCL injury and 3 weeks since Jason Kelce returned from abdominal surgery.
LeSean McCoy gained 155 yards on 25 carries when the Eagles won at Green Bay last November. Sunday, he slogged to 88 on 23. Same defense, except Clay Matthews had two healthy hands this time and was playing inside most of the time Sunday. Same offensive line, except for Matt Tobin replacing Todd Herremans.
"It was just a combination," HC Chip Kelly said yesterday, asked what he saw hindering the run game when he reviewed film of Sunday's 53-20 loss to the Packers, who came in ranked 30th in the NFL against the run. "There were times where it was blocked up pretty good and we hit a couple in there, and then there were some other times where we're just slipping off of blocks. We're not sustaining blocks or hitting it the right way."
Asked what McCoy can do better, Kelly said he couldn't specify one thing, but did think McCoy was patient, something that hasn't always been the case with the RB this season. Darren Sproles is averaging 6.8 yards per carry in very limited work behind the same line, but Kelly spoke enigmatically of "the rotation" and asserted that "LeSean is our guy." Asked why Sproles gets so few touches, Kelly said: "Yeah, I just don't think we're running the ball well overall." McCoy continues to get his 20-plus carries and while the yards have been OK as of late, he has just one TD in his last five games and just two overall. Sproles has just been getting a handful of touches since seeing double-digit touches very early in the season.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 8:25pm
Foster has caught 24 passes on those routes for 166 yards, which ranks 13th in the league among running backs. Foster also has two receiving touchdowns, more than all running backs except Ahmad Bradshaw, Forte and Marshawn Lynch.
Darren Sproles injured his knee in the team’s Week 6 win over the Giants and wound up being listed as questionable for last week’s game after spending the bye week rehabbing the injury. The team ultimately decided not to play him, however.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Sproles said things would be different against the Texans. Sproles practiced on Tuesday and said afterward that he will be in the lineup when the game kicks off in Houston.
With Chris Polk active, the team decided to rest Sproles another week. Polk had three carries and a catch while spelling LeSean McCoy against Arizona - his first offensive touches of the season. Sproles had seven carries in each of his last two games, but hasn't recorded a catch since Week 4.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 1:46pm
According to Redskins beat writers from CSN Washington, HC Jay Gruden seems to be losing his patience with the stagnant running game.
“Where do you want me to start?” he said Monday, asked what’s wrong with the ground attack.
But after saying Alfred Morris has missed some cutback opportunities in addition to numerous other systemic breakdowns, Gruden also gave Morris a vote of confidence, saying, “We still like Alfred. We still feel like he’s going to carry us to where we need to go.”
So it doesn’t sound to me like making a change is even in the discussion.
The normally consistent Morris has been anything but this year. It's a similar situation where LeSean McCoy is struggling but Darren Sproles has fewer carries but a higher yards per carry average. The same can be said for Roy Helu and Morris in Washington. Helu's carries are far and few between, but he's performing better behind a bad offensive line. The schedule does ease for the short term so we'll see if the team can get some momentum in the running game. The possible return of Robert Griffin III at QB could also help.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 12:46pm
There’s been chatter around Baltimore as to who the Ravens’ top running back is in their strong rushing game. On Sunday in Tampa Bay, Forsett took another step in proving he’s the guy.
Forsett and the now healthy Pierce split the carries – Forsett got 14 and Pierce had 15. But Forsett took his for 111 yards (7.9 yard average), and Pierce totaled 32 yards (2.1 average) and a touchdown on his attempts.
Forsett got his fourth straight start, and kick-started the Ravens offense with a 52-yard jaunt on their second play of the game.
Forsett, who still leads the NFL in average yards per carry (6.4), hadn’t logged a 100-yard game since 2009, his second year in the league when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. Forsett is fifth in the NFL with 408 rushing yards, trailing only Dallas' DeMarco Murray, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell, Houston's Arian Foster and Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy. It didn't appear Forsett would step up to the lead role and keep it with the younger Pierce and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro as part of the running attack. For now, Forsett is taking advantage of his opportunities despite splitting carries with Pierce.
Still a team source told NJ.com that Sproles' injury "does not look good.'' Asked how bad it was, the source responded, "it's not good.''
Sproles catches a break with the Eagles on the bye next week. His status for Arizona, Oct. 26 and beyond won't be determined until the team comes back from the bye to practice, Oct. 21.
Other reports said Sproles was joking with teammates in the locker room. Sproles did walk off the field and to the locker room under his own power but it looks like owners will have to wait and see how long he could be out. He was scheduled for an MRI Monday. The Eagles have a bye in Week 7 before coming back to play the Cardinals in Week 8. The Birds will likely bring in another RB with Chris Polk (hamstring) inactive for Week 6. LeSean McCoy will see plenty of touches if Sproles is out any length of time.
Saturday, October 11, 2014, 8:10am
Eagles RB LeSean McCoy was ready.
It was late, the game was on the line, and he wanted the ball. But his number wasn't called, and he seethed.
"Yeah, I was hot. I mean, who wouldn't want the ball?" McCoy said. "I wasn't [angry], but I thought I was getting it."
While the running back's reaction may seem like a reversal from statements he made this past week, the pivotal moment in question wasn't the Eagles' late-game decision to go with Darren Sproles over McCoy against the Rams last Sunday.
It happened a week earlier against the 49ers. The Eagles, trailing by five points, drove down the field. A McCoy 5-yard carry on second down put them 11/2 yards from the goal line. During the two-minute warning, McCoy said he was told he would get the ball.
That's been back-to-back games the Eagles haven't gone with their stud RB in key situations. Last week a lot was made over the Eagles taking out McCoy for Sproles later in the game to kill the clock. Sproles busted off a long run for a first down and never came out of the game after that. The issue with McCoy has been dancing around and looking for room that often isn't there behind a banged up line. He seems to refuse to take what little is there and will try to make more. While Sproles, on the other hand, is taking what's there. McCoy is going to get his carries and still finished with 24 and four catches, but the team isn't afraid to use Sproles at just about any time in the game.
Eagles beat writer Phil Sheridan says that instability of the team's offensive line is to blame for LeSean McCoy's struggles: The unit that started the same five guys in all 17 games in 2013 will start the same five guys twice in a row for the first time this season Sunday night. And that five will not include starting center Jason Kelce and left guard Evan Mathis, who will be out for another month or so. With the line in flux, LeSean McCoy has looked totally ordinary and Foles has not resembled his 2013 self.
The good news is that the unit should get healthier as the season wears on, which makes McCoy an attractive "buy low" candidate if the price is right. He does have two matchups with a leaky Cowboys defense in Week 13 and Week 15. On the flip side, he also faces the Seahawks in Week 14.
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