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Prior to the season beginning, it was obvious who the best running backs in the NFL were. It seemed like there were five backs that stood out above the rest. Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson has been a top tier running back since he entered the league in 2007. He was the only thing going well for the team but that has changed drastically. Another top back is Eagles back LeSean McCoy. Last year was a great year under first year coach Chip Kelly and he saw a lot more screen passes to try and get him into open space. Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs has his most productive season last year, amounting a total of almost 2,000 all purpose yards. Chicago’s back Matt Forte took major steps into becoming a top player in the NFL. Forte could be the most versatile player in all of football. Lastly, the fifth running back in the top tier is Marshawn Lynch from Seattle. Beast Mode has proven to be one of the most physical and determined runners throughout the league. So far Lynch is the only one who has played up to expectations and it looks like there are some young up and coming running backs fighting for top tier status.

Adrian Peterson’s season is in extreme jeopardy. He has only played one game this season. The Vikings took on the St. Louis Rams during week one of the regular season and A.P. rushed for seventy-five yards on twenty-one carries. He also had two receptions for eighteen yards. After that week, Peterson was indicted on charges of negligence and child abuse. There was an alleged incident that involved the football star using a branch to hit one of his children as a form of discipline. He posted $15,000 bail. The Vikings suspended him for their second game. Following that game though, the team tried to reinstate him. That was a bad idea that got a ton of negative publicity. Peterson was then placed on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List. Peterson’s season is likely over and his career is in jeopardy. It’s a shame one of the most popular NFL players has gotten himself into legal trouble, but it’s about time character is valued over skill.


Last year the rushing leader was Eagles star LeSean McCoy. He finished the year with 1,607 rushing yards as the Eagles won the NFC East Division. Shady led the league in carries with 314. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry, which was good enough for fifth in the NFL. Shady McCoy also tied for fifth with nine rushing touchdowns. Probably the most impressive statistic that has to do with the season LeSean McCoy is that every player of the starting offensive line played all 16 games. This season couldn’t be more different though. Left tackle Jason Peters was ejected from the game last week after hitting Chris Baker who hit Nick Foles. Left guard Evan Mathis will miss an extended period of time following an MCL sprain. He was placed on injured reserved designated to return. Center Jason Kelce was injured last week with an abdominal injury now being described as a sports hernia. He will require surgery and could miss up to two months. Eagles starting right tackle Lane Johnson was suspended for violating the league’s drug policy. His replacement Allen Barbre suffered a high ankle sprain during week one and he will likely have season-ending knee surgery. Right guard Todd Herremans is healthy and will hopefully stay that way. With such a mangled line, LeSean McCoy will probably have a down year in comparison to the past.


During the Kansas City Chiefs season opener against the Tennessee Titans, Jamaal Charles left the game with a high ankle sprain. He only rushed the ball seven times to total nineteen yards. During the Chiefs’ next game, Charles tried to play but only carried the ball twice. He sat out the entire third game. Head Coach Andy Reid said that he expected Charles to play on Monday Night Football against the Patriots. Jamaal Charles will realistically split carries with Knile Davis but he will look to regain his strides after a career year last year.


 

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte has had a subpar season. During the team’s season opener, Forte had eighty-two yards on seventeen carries. To accompany that, he had eight catches for eighty-seven yards. This was actually a very reminiscent stat line from last year. Forte is a bigger threat as a receiver than as a running back. But in the second game of the season, Forte carried the ball twelve times for a total of twenty-one yards. The next game he had thirty-three yards on thirteen carries. Matt Forte has not looked good. He has not been breaking through the line of scrimmage like he had before. Forte will hopefully step up his game or else the Bears will struggle this season.
Marshawn Lynch has been the best running back out of these players by far, without a doubt. Seattle opened up its season against the Green Bay Packers. Lynch had his way rushing for a hundred ten yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks next game was their only loss and it was against San Diego. Seattle did not the ball much but Lynch did have four receptions and a touchdown. In week three there was a Super Bowl rematch. Lynch had a hundred and twenty-eight all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. So far, Marshawn Lynch is the only running back to play up to the expectations.


As some of these running backs are disappointing, many others have stepped up. Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has played extremely well. He has always been a good back, but has never been able to stay healthy. So far, through three weeks, he has rushed the ball at least twenty-two times, had at least one hundred rushing yard, and has had a touchdown in each game. If he can stay healthy and play this well, he should allow Dallas to fight for a playoff spot and maybe even the MVP crown. Another back that has played very well is Le’Veon Bell. Over three games, Bell averages over a hundred yards a game, but has only scored once. He has made big strides since last year and will continue to do so. Bell has also started to become a much better receiving back. The other running back that has played very well is Giovani Bernard. Bernard has not rushed for a lot of yards, only an average of 60 yards a game. But he has also had 62, 79, and 7 yards receiving in each of the first three games. Murray, Bell, and Bernard have played like they are top five running backs and by the end of the year, they might actually be top five backs.

 

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