Although a lot of focus in the offseason was spent talking about the loss of long-time Eagle Donovan McNabb, the Eagles lost another long-time player in Brian Westbrook. His final season in Philadelphia wasn’t so great, but it did give LeSean McCoy the opportunity to get some serious play time and set the Eagles rookie record for rushing yards. In 2010, McCoy will be the feature back, but let’s take some time to look at the other guy who will be competing for time at the position.
Currently the Eagles are carrying the following running backs:
Mike Bell, 6-0 225
Eldra Buckley, 5-9 207
Keithon Flemming, 5-10 208
Martell Mallett, 6-0 210
LeSean McCoy, 5-11 208
Charles Scott, 5-11 238
As it stands, it looks like Mike Bell will be the number two option behind McCoy. He’s the second biggest back on the roster and should provide a nice compliment to McCoy’s style of running. Bell last played in a system that focused on throwing the ball much like the Eagles and has a lot of tread left on his tires. At 27, Bell has only 348 career rushing attempts but has averaged four yards per carry with 14 touchdowns. If he pans out as expected, Bell should be a big help for the Eagles.
Despite his potential, Bell is currently suffering from a hamstring injury which is opening up the doors for some younger players to get some extra reps. The battle for the third running back position is currently between Eldra Buckley, Martell Mallett, and Charles Scott. All three are young players and looking for their chance to shine.
Buckley is the early favorite because he spent time as the third running back last year. He was featured in some short yardage situations, but they were very predictable and typically failed. Although he’s the shortest back of the group, he runs hard and has a good shot at keeping his role as the third running back.
Mallett is an interesting prospect that no one knows a whole lot about. He is young and played one season in the CFL. In his rookie season there, he was named the most outstanding rookie in the league totaling 1,622 yards and eight touchdowns. It seems that he has a great balance of speed and power; however, he will have to prove he can learn the Eagles system and do more than just run the ball.
The last competitor for the third running back race is rookie Charles Scott. To me, Scott is a very interesting prospect. After having a killer season as a junior at LSU in 2008, Scott was injured in 2009 and missed four games. In a full year in 2008, Scott racked up 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground. He is a big bruising back and could potentially help a lot in short yardage situations.
The third running back competition will definitely be something to keep an eye on in Training Camp, and I’m very excited to see who wins the spot.