Aug 022010

August 2 Philadelphia Inquirer

Andy Reid doles out carries to his running backs like scraps under the table.

So when a back gets a leftover from his beloved passing game, it’s best to gnaw on it and make the best of what’s left on the bone.

But what happens when there are three or four running backs scrounging for carries? Are they satisfied with their portions or do they bark for more?

The Eagles have a stable of running backs in training camp this year, and the pecking order is in place. LeSean McCoy, taking over full time for Brian Westbrook, is the No. 1 tailback. Mike Bell, despite a hamstring injury he suffered Sunday, is the backup. And Eldra Buckley, Charles Scott and newly acquired J.J. Arrington will fight it out for the third spot.

But there is also Leonard Weaver, a hybrid fullback making running back money. The trick for Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg this season, however, is not divvying up the pie so that each running back is content. It’s in finding the right complement to improve the offense.

Bell, playing for Super Bowl champion New Orleans last season, was part of one of the better three-headed running back monsters of recent memory. Pierre Thomas was the dual-threat, shifty tailback. Reggie Bush was the pass-catching threat out of the backfield. And Bell was the north-south, short-yardage back.

“We have great running backs in the backfield that can do different things and bring different things to the table,” Bell said earlier in the day before his injury. “I think that’s what you need. You need a variety of different things so teams won’t get used to running the same exact play.”

While the Eagles may not have the same firepower as the 2009 Saints, they do have running backs that balance each other. If the 6-foot, 225-pound Bell likes to power ahead, McCoy prefers to bob and weave through a defense.

“Mike is obviously a bigger guy and more of a power guy . . . and if he sees that spot and you’re in the way, he’s taking you with him,” Reid said. “McCoy kind of picks and chooses in that area, but he’s got that elusiveness that is rare in this league.””

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