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saint5221 12-05-2003 01:30 PM

Top Former Saint RB's talk about Deuce

Ex-Saint RBs: Deuce 'in a zone'

McAllister among elite in franchise history

Friday December 05, 2003

By Brian Allee-Walsh
Staff writer

NFC rushing leader Deuce McAllister is running with exclusive company these days.


-- Nine consecutive 100-yard rushing games place the Saints running back in an elite group with Barry Sanders (14), Marcus Allen (11) and Walter Payton (nine).

-- McAllister has rushed for at least 150 yards in three consecutive games, one shy of the NFL record held by Earl Campbell of the Houston Oilers in 1980.

r McAllister also joins Jim Brown (1962-63) and Payton (1977) as the only players in NFL history to gain more than 190 total yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.

Get the picture.

"He's definitely in a zone," said former Saints running back Rueben Mayes, who played four seasons with New Orleans. "That's a great feeling to have. I've had it a few times as a player."

What did it feel like?

"It feels like you're invincible," Mayes said. "Everything falls into place. It's like you're in sync with the offensive line; there's a sense of oneness. Everyone is pulling for you; you're pulling for them. It's a great feeling.

"When I literally stepped on the field, I just knew I was going to have a good game. I'm sure that's how he's feeling right now. I'm sure he just knows he's going to have a good game. You just feel right."

McAllister has needed less than two seasons as a full-time starter to move into sixth place on the Saints' career rushing list with 2,872 yards.

With another 537 yards, he will move past Ricky Williams (3,129), Chuck Muncie (3,386) and Mayes (3,408) into third place, behind only George Rogers (4,267) and Dalton Hilliard (4,164).

The way McAllister has been piling up rushing yardage the past three weeks (165, 184, 173), anything seems possible, even a 2,000-yard season.

McAllister has rushed for 1,393 yards, second only to the Baltimore Ravens' Jamal Lewis (1,442) in the NFL.

"Records are made to be broken, man," said Rogers, who played four seasons with New Orleans. "There couldn't be a better running back to do it than Deuce. Tell him I said, 'Get 'em all!'

"When you get in a zone like he's in now, you want the ball every time you line up. Deuce is a class running back, and I look forward to him breaking my records."

McAllister has surpassed Rogers' career mark of 16 100-yard rushing games. He achieved No. 17 on Sunday with a 165-yard effort in a 24-20 victory against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.

He needs 282 yards in the Saints' last four games to surpass Rogers' franchise single-season rushing record of 1,674 yards set in 1981.

"Deuce's abilities are unlimited," said Hilliard, who played eight seasons with New Orleans. "He has the ability to run inside and take the pounding. He has amazing speed for a big kid.

"Barring injuries, this kid will be one of the best around. What he's done the last nine games is special. He's consistently doing it, week in and week out."

McAllister stands to shatter Rogers' franchise single-season record of 1,800 total yards from scrimmage. McAllister leads the NFC with 1,756 yards, including 363 yards on a career-high 50 receptions.

Last season, McAllister led the NFC in rushing with 1,388 yards, one more than the New York Giants' Tiki Barber. McAllister finished second in total yards from scrimmage with 1,740.

"There's a lot of me left to come," McAllister said. "I'm only in my second year as a starter. I think my best years are ahead of me, if I can stay healthy. That's the key thing, if you can stay healthy and stay away from nagging injuries.

"Last year, I was nagged by an ankle injury the second half of the year. I thought I could have put up these kinds of numbers last year, but I never really got the opportunity because I wasn't 100 percent. That's the only thing you can hope for is good health and just go make plays."

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