NFL

LeSean McCoy Says This Player Is Keeping Him Young

By most standards, LeSean McCoy is a young man at 31. By NFL standards, he’s old. By NFL running back standards, he’s ancient. While he’s been good for Buffalo since being traded there, last year he started showing signs of slipping.

For an NFL running back past 30, feeling young is a big part of achieving continued success. McCoy recently said that there’s a player in camp who’s helping him feel that way. Before we get to that, let’s take a look to see how father time has caught up to McCoy.

LeSean McCoy’s career numbers

McCoy enters his 11th year in the league, a time when most running backs would be long retired. He spent the first six years of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles and the last four with the Buffalo Bills. Take a look at some of McCoy’s impressive career accomplishments: 

  • 10,606 rushing yards (third among active players, 25th among all players)
  • 475 receptions out of the backfield
  • 69 rushing touchdowns, 15 receiving touchdowns
  • 72.1 rushing yards per game average
  • Six Pro Bowl selections
  • Two-time first-team All-Pro
  • Led the league once in both rushing touchdowns (2011) and rushing yards (2013) 
  • Third among active players in touches with 2,821

Though McCoy has been incredibly productive over his career, he’s only played a full season four times. And last year’s totals were nothing to write home about. 

How did LeSean McCoy perform in 2018?

As noted above, 31 isn’t old by normal standards but it is by those of an NFL running back. Last year, McCoy began to look his age: 

  • 514 rushing yards
  • 3 rushing touchdowns 
  • 195 total touches – his lowest total since his rookie year
  • 36.7 yards per game – a career low
  • 11.5 rushing attempts per game – his lowest total since his rookie year
  • His longest rush of the season was only 28 yards – a career low

McCoy did get a little banged up last season – a chest rib fracture, concussion, and hamstring strain caused him to miss two games – but ultimately played 14 of 16 games.

According to data on how players at different positions tend to decline and at what age they do so, 28 is considered “old” for a running back. McCoy is entering the final stages of his career. The odds are extremely high that we are witnessing the beginning of a sustained drop in his performance.

ESPN currently lists McCoy as first on the Bills’ depth chart at running back. As far as who’s making McCoy feel young again? According to McCoy, it’s the man right behind him. 

LeSean McCoy says this player is keeping him young

This offseason, the Bills signed veteran running back Frank Gore to serve as McCoy’s backup. Gore has played 14 seasons in the league and is 36 years old.

His 14,748 rushing yards are first overall for active players and fourth all-time. He’s been selected for five Pro Bowls and has remained active in the league well past when other running backs would have retired. 

Here’s what McCoy had to say about Gore’s presence in the Buffalo backfield as quoted by Pro Football Talk via the Buffalo Bills official team website:

We’ve been friends before we got here,” McCoy said, via the Bills’ website. “We train together. I’m constantly trying to improve my game, find motivation. Who better to learn from than Frank? I was begging him to come.”

The 30-year-old McCoy said he’s also looking to the 36-year-old Gore to see how he keeps his body ready to go.

“I think I’m getting older. Then I look at him and all his old rituals he has. I’m still young,” McCoy said.

If McCoy wants any chance of performing well past his expiration date, he’ll need to use Gore as a model for how to maintain longevity. If Gore’s good habits can rub off on him, perhaps McCoy can rebound and improve his play in 2019.