Expectations for McCoy; Harbor's athleticism

What should the Eagles expect from second-year running back LeSean McCoy this season? (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

We continue with our questions for Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders today.

Q: What did you find about the Eagles’ running game? Are there any conclusions we can draw about the kind of back LeSean McCoy will be, based on his rookie season?

Barnwell: One interesting stat we found about the running game in 2009 is that it was much better without a fullback; the Eagles averaged 5.2 yards per carry with a single back, but only 3.1 yards per carry in two-back sets. That's a much larger difference than league average. Like with Kolb, I don't think you can say a lot about LeSean McCoy based on his rookie season. Think about Ray Rice, for example. Rice was the 55th pick in the 2008 draft, and McCoy was the 53rd pick in the 2009 draft. Rice had 107 carries as a rookie, but he only gained an unimpressive 454 yards on those carries, and he was mostly a safety valve in the passing game. As a sophomore, of course, he broke out and was one of the league's most valuable backs. McCoy had 155 carries to Rice's 107, but he played at a roughly similar level. That's not to say that McCoy is going to have a season like Rice's, but Rice was similarly unimpressive as a rookie.

You can purchase the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac here.


I caught up with Clay Harbor after the morning practice on Tuesday. The Eagles' fourth-round pick has been getting more reps with the twos and the ones over the last couple of days. I asked him if there are special packages that call for him on the field.

"I'm not sure," he said. "Whenever the coaches tell me to go in, I run in. If they tell me to go in and there's nobody else on the field, I'm going to do that. So I'm not really sure what the reasoning is with the reps I'm getting. I'm just taking it with a grian of salt. If I'm with the threes, I'm going to do the same thing as if I were with the ones."

Harbor has had more ups than downs so far in camp, and looks comfortable as a pass-catcher. But he knows he'll have to prove himself as a blocker and also on special teams if he's going to contribute as a rookie.

"Coach Reid makes sure that he lets us know when we come in, that if you're going to be on this team, you're going to play special teams," Harbor said. "That' something I look forward to. I'm a big guy that can run, and I like to hit people. I'm going to give my best effort out there on special teams to help the team any way I can."

From an offensive standpoint, it's been more of a mental challenge than anything else for Harbor. Coming from Missouri State (I-AA), he realized during OTAs that relying on physical ability would not get him far against the caliber of athletes he's now facing on a daily basis.

"The OTAs, mentally, was my biggest thing, trying to pick up the concepts of the offense," Harbor said. "You have to be a lot more technically sound at this level than you do in college, especially coming from a small-level college where  you can 'out-athlete' a lot of people and be stronger than them. In the NFL, you're not going to be stronger than the guy next to you. When you're lining up next to Trent Cole or some All-Pro defensive end, you're obviously not going to 'out-athletic' them or outpower them. You have to be very technically sound to give yourself a chance to win. And that's really the thing I had to get. After OTAs, I think that really started coming to me. Now at training camp, I've really worked on my technique and that aspect of it, and it's helping me."


Owner Jeffrey Lurie will deliver his annual State of the Eagles address after today's morning practice. Michael Vick is also expected to talk about his meeting with Roger Goodell yesterday.

The afternoon practice is special teams only. On Thursday, the Eagles have a walkthrough in the morning, and then Flight Night back at the Linc in the evening.

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