Football / Sports

LeSean McCoy has bigger goals than 2,000 yards

LeSean McCoy started an active Twitter campaign last weekend about his quest for 2,000 rushing yards. It's a lofty goal for any running back, even the NFL's defending rushing champion.

Only seven players in NFL history have eclipsed that benchmark. McCoy's league-leading 1,607 rushing yards came on a career-high 314 carries. In order to reach 2,000 yards with his 2013 rushing average of 5.12 yards per carry, he would need 391 carries.

That's unlikely to happen. McCoy didn't do the math, but he knows the long odds. He admitted the Twitter campaign was, in large part, because of an endorsement campaign for dryer sheets.

"The ball's going to be spread around a lot, so 2,000 is going to be tough," McCoy said. "But I just have fun with it. I let the media and all the fans react to it. The fantasy 1/8football3/8 people."

When coach Chip Kelly was asked whether McCoy could reach 2,000 rushing yards in this offense, he responded with the same apathy that he applied to the weekly depth chart or the hype that a rookie receives.

"I don't care," Kelly said. "I really don't care and he knows that and I've told him that. All we care about is, are we winning football games? We've never been driven by individual statistics and he understands that."

McCoy also said what he's worried about is winning, and he'd be fine with rushing for 50 yards and Nick Foles throwing for 400 yards in a victory. But McCoy sets tangible goals each season. Last year, it was winning the NFC East and reaching 2,000 all-purpose yards. Both were achieved. He has yet to settle on this year's goals.

Even after the best season of McCoy's career, Kelly made it clear that there is much McCoy can improve. In addition to the better shape in which McCoy arrived at training camp, Kelly mentioned improvements in pass protection, route running, and short-yardage plays. He also identified one area that helps make McCoy one of the game's finest rushers.

"He can do a better job in eliminating negative plays where maybe the hole is not exactly there, but second-and-9 is better than second-and-14, where every play he tries to run has to be a home run," Kelly said. "We're seeing that. There's a lot more patience in him."

McCoy said he's able to make "something big out of nothing" so often that he becomes seduced into trying it every time. His nine runs of 20-plus yards in 2013 were tied for second most in the NFL, as were three runs of 40-plus yards. He acknowledged he must be willing to accept his losses -- which are actually short gains.

"Sometimes I get wrapped up in just my God-given abilities instead of doing the fundamental things," McCoy said. "All the little things you get away with because you have that natural talent. But sometimes, if you let the play develop, and then use the other stuff, it makes me better."

McCoy excelled during the two days the Eagles practiced with the Patriots. McCoy ran past Patriots star cornerback Darrelle Revis on Tuesday and joked that McCoy is the best one to wear No. 25 at Pittsburgh, where they both starred in that jersey number.

Beyond the badinage, McCoy is responsive to Kelly's call to improve. McCoy said one of his distinguishing characteristics is admitting areas for growth.

"A lot of players, they hide it," McCoy said. "Because they get to a certain level, and they feel like they're so good. I don't hide it."

So on the subject of 2,000 yards, McCoy confessed that any running back would want that benchmark. But that Twitter campaign was for a promotion, and his objective is keeping his place among the NFL's elite players by refining so many parts of his game.

"I don't think he's complacent or happy in terms of where he is," Kelly said. "Hopefully, he thinks that last year was just him scratching the surface in terms of what his potential can be."

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