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NFC Focus: Running Backs

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; SN Correspondents 1. Saints Deuce McAllister is a proven every-down back, and Reggie Bush is a dynamic athlete who can make big plays. Fullback Mike Karney is a solid blocker. 2. Rams A tantalizing combination of speed and power, Steven ...

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Old 08-08-2007, 12:42 AM   #1
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Cool NFC Focus: Running Backs

SN Correspondents

1. Saints Deuce McAllister is a proven every-down back, and Reggie Bush is a dynamic athlete who can make big plays. Fullback Mike Karney is a solid blocker.

2. Rams A tantalizing combination of speed and power, Steven Jackson should thrive under coordinator Greg Olson. Rookie Brian Leonard will contribute on third downs.

3. Redskins Clinton Portis is always a threat to score. Ladell Betts could start for many teams in the league. Fullback Mike Sellers is an excellent lead blocker.

4. Eagles Brian Westbrook is a star in the making-- 2,000 total yards is attainable this season. Correll Buckhalter, finally healthy after three knee injuries, is a good backup.

5. 49ers Frank Gore has an explosive combination of power and speed. He often benefits from the blocking of fullback Moran Norris. Depth behind Gore is an issue.

6. Seahawks Age is becoming a factor for Shaun Alexander and fullback Mack Strong. An even bigger concern is how Alexander will rebound from his foot injury.

7. Cardinals Edgerrin James won't make as many long runs as other elite backs, but he has great vision and agility. Marcel Shipp is a nice change of pace.

8. Vikings The styles of Chester Taylor, an inside grinder, and speedy rookie Adrian Peterson complement each other. Expect to see plenty of the duo on the field together.

9. Cowboys Julius Jones has the speed to make big plays, and Marion Barber is powerful in short-yardage situations. The team lacks a well-rounded fullback.

10. Falcons Though Warrick Dunn is aging, he and Jerious Norwood comprise a fine combo. Fullback Ovie Mughelli was signed to pave the way for them.

11. Bears Cedric Benson is a physical runner who should thrive with a heavy workload. Adrian Peterson lacks a top gear and has durability issues.

12. Buccaneers Cadillac Williams still can't keep Michael Pittman off the field on third downs. Fullback Mike Alstott is effective but nowhere near the player he once was.

13. Panthers DeAngelo Williams likely will emerge as the feature back after DeShaun Foster's struggles in '06. Brad Hoover remains a solid blocking fullback.

14. Lions The team hopes Kevin Jones will recover from foot surgery and carry the load. Tatum Bell and T.J. Duckett offer insurance.

15. Giants Massive Brandon Jacobs (6-4, 264) has Tiki Barber's big shoes to fill, and his durability as the go-to back is unproven. Reuben Droughns, another bullish runner, does not provide a good changeup.

16. Packers Vernand Morency and rookie Brandon Jackson are the leading candidates for the job. This likely will be a running back-by-committee system.

Top 5 NFC backs
1. Steven Jackson, Rams. He became a certified beast last season -- as a runner and a receiver. Good luck to defenses. At 6-2, 231, he brings it all day.

2. Frank Gore, 49ers. Gore broke out every which way last season. His 5.4-yard average was the best among the league's top 10 rushers.

3. Brian Westbrook, Eagles. He's L.T. Lite: lots of moves, lots of versatility, lots of productivity. But can he continue to handle the bigger load he had in 2006?

4. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks. Coming off his first clunker of a season, he needs better health and line play to regain his dominance.

5. Edgerrin James, Cardinals. James is bound to be better in the Cardinals' new Steelers-style offense.

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