Camp Countdown presented by M&T Bank will examine some of the more pressing issues facing the team on the field as they make their final preparations for the regular season. We also focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field. We'll address these subjects one at a time until training camp begins. Here now is the latest daily installment as we carefully probe for some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 30 and the Sept. 13 opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium against Indianapolis.
It's a figure he's reached once before in his career. During the 2013 season LeSean McCoy rushed for just over 1,600 yards and logged another 500-plus yards receiving for better than 2,100 all-purpose yards. He touched the ball 366 times that year and also had 11 touchdowns.
In a Buffalo offense expected to ride the running game under offensive coordinator Greg Roman, can McCoy reach the 2K mark in 2015?
OpportunityRoman has made no secret that his passing game is going to be spreading the ball around. As he stated to Buffalobills.com it's not going to be a 'Let's get the ball to Johnny' offense. When it comes to the ground game however, it's a different story.
In three of Roman's four seasons running the San Francisco offense the 49ers had more total rushes than pass attempts, and that's counting plays in which the quarterback was sacked. From 2011-2013 the 49ers had 498, 492 and 505 total rushes. They dipped slightly to 470 last year.
However, in none of those four seasons did former San Francisco bell cow back Frank Gore reach 300 carries. Part of that could be attributed to the running ability of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took over the starting quarterback job in 2012, and took carries away from Gore.
Who the starting quarterback is for the Bills could impact just how many carries McCoy gets this fall, especially if it winds up being Tyrod Taylor. With that position still unresolved the plan for the run game this season sounds pretty clear even for veteran Fred Jackson.
"I know they want LeSean to get up to 300 carries this year," said Jackson in a radio interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. "That's a guy you're feeding the ball all the time."
Roman, who finally had the opportunity to witness McCoy's abilities up close and personal in the spring practices, sounded very impressed. At the same time Buffalo's offensive play caller has been around long enough to know that each game takes on a different pace and tenor and requires him to go with what gives them the best chance to stack victories.
"I do believe it's how we decide to play as a team and how games are going sometimes, which might force the ball into his hands more or less than other times," said Roman. "But make no mistake about it he is one of the premier running backs on planet Earth and I saw that first hand this spring."
Welcoming the workloadMcCoy stands just 5-11 and is listed at 208 pounds. While he's capable of getting a yard when his offense needs it, he doesn't make his money pushing piles. That's also the reason he's been able to handle 300-plus carries over each of the past two seasons.
"The way I play the game, I never take really direct blows," McCoy said. "Knock on wood, I never really miss games and so I feel comfortable in my ability. God has blessed me tremendously in keeping me healthy, keeping me motivated. I always have to prove something and always willing to do it so I feel confident in my game and we'll see."
Some outside observers wonder if McCoy, now 27-years old, can handle a third straight season with that much work. McCoy is unfazed by it.
"I'm going to train hard and work hard to get it done," he said. "I feel good. I feel fresh. I can't wait to get out there and prove myself. I think every time you get to a new place, new faces, new eyes, you always want to have that effect on (fans) like, 'Wow! …ok he is as good as advertised.' You always want that feeling."
McCoy knows where he stands in the running back pecking order in Buffalo, and he's done his homework on his offensive coordinator. That's why he's excited about the 2015 season. He feels he'll be relied upon heavily to move the ball.
"Greg (Roman) is very intelligent," said McCoy. "He finds ways to get his running back the ball in space to make different plays. I'm very close with Frank Gore and Frank couldn't stop saying positive things about coach. So it sounds like Greg and I are going to have the same vision and the same goals. The main thing is to run the ball hard and get some guys up front to make some things happen.
"I can say just the way he uses the back, he wants to make the guy the workhorse so we definitely agree on that."
The wins not the yardsThough the 2,000 all-purpose yard mark is a respectable personal goal to have, it's not one that registers high on McCoy's list. Having done it once before and now entering his seventh NFL season, McCoy is more focused on just getting enough of the work to help deliver victories.
"I'm just going to play ball," he said. "I don't want to worry about that. All that type of stuff – the stats… that doesn't even matter.* *I love to compete. I look forward to putting up some numbers here, but I want to win. I think the biggest thing is you can be one of the best players stats-wise, but if you're not winning, a lot of that stuff doesn't matter.
"That's one of the biggest things that I want to accomplish here that I haven't really accomplished in my career. I've been to the playoffs a couple of times—never went past the first round. That's something I want to get to. I want to get to those big games when everybody's watching. That's something I haven't done at any level, from high school all the way up to the pros. If you want to talk about production and numbers, the biggest thing is to win. That's something I really want to do."