LeSean McCoy emerged from the scuffle still enraged, needing to be restrained from going after Trent Cole again. The Eagles' star running back was upset when Cole, a veteran linebacker, pushed him off the line during a seven-on-seven drill Sunday.
The first fight of training camp ensued.
"The whole camp so far, it's been touching a little too much," McCoy said. "And I'm trying to let them know, 'It's OK if you can't cover me.' "
McCoy flashed a smile and emphasized his friendship with Cole. He clarified that they are not two roster hopefuls trying to get noticed but rather two friends who will help the Eagles win games this season.
McCoy might have been joking when he said the defensive players cannot cover him, but there is truth to the statement. And that's not even because the Eagles still are developing outside linebackers for their 3-4 defense.
Few defenses were able to stay with McCoy in 2013, when he won his first rushing title with 1,607 yards and also led the NFL with 2,146 all-purpose yards. He is only 26, and he's 1,066 yards away from supplanting Wilbert Montgomery as the team's all-time leading rusher.
"Keep writing the history books," Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "I think he's the best running back in the NFL. The things he does with the ball, not very many people can do it."
Asked what McCoy does that only football players can appreciate, Maclin cited the running back's vision.
"I don't think people who don't play the game of football understand how fast the game is, and how much this game relies on how you react to things," Maclin said. "I think he does that very, very well -- probably the best in the NFL."
The debate about where McCoy ranks among NFL running backs has gone on throughout the offseason, with McCoy and Adrian Peterson generally considered the league's top two. The position is becoming devalued around the league -- for the second consecutive season, no running backs were drafted in the first round -- but McCoy does not believe the top players at the position have lost value.
It's a newsworthy topic after Jamaal Charles received a new deal in Kansas City following the threat of a holdout and Marshawn Lynch is holding out in Seattle. They were among the NFL's top six rushers and share the elite class with McCoy.
"The top guys who make good money and are productive other than just 1/8being3/8 running backs, we're playmakers," McCoy said. "The top guys, you can compare us to any of the other players, and we'll hold our own. I mean, Jamaal Charles led his team in receiving yards. ... I led the league in yards from scrimmage. Adrian Peterson has tons of big plays. If you look at any wide receiver, put us right there with them. We'll make big plays."
McCoy recorded 17 plays of more than 20 yards last season. Only nine came on rushes. The other eight were on receptions.
The Eagles featured wheel routes often during the first two days of practice. McCoy and Darren Sproles are accomplished receivers out of the backfield, and coach Chip Kelly expects all of his running backs to catch. For McCoy, it's another way to enhance his value. Bumping him might be the only way for defenders to stop him -- even his own teammates.
"How do you stop speedy, athletic, shifty backs who can run, and also run routes?" McCoy said. "There's so much space. I think the biggest thing in our offense is about spacing. You have the passes where you can go deep, but you've got the quick ones, also. There's so many different things with this offense."
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