LeSean: I want to be the best back in the league
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- LeSean McCoy led the NFL last season with 17 rushing and 20 total touchdowns, both Eagles records.
Apparently, his record-breaking season was not satisfying enough.
He wants to be better.
“I want to be considered the best back in the league,” McCoy said Wednesday, just moments after arriving at Lehigh University for training camp. “I have a lot more room for improvement. Guys talk about different players as the best backs, you probably say AP (Adrian Peterson), [Arian] Foster and [Ray] Rice. I want to be one of them guys that, at the end of the day, they say McCoy.”
The fourth-year pro would like to improve as a receiver, a scary thought considering Shady is already one of the NFL’s premier pass-catching backs.
Since 2009, McCoy ranks third among running backs in receptions (166) and fifth in both receiving yards (1,215) and receiving touchdowns (five).
How can he get better? By improving his stamina.
“I don’t think I caught enough balls last year at all,” McCoy said. “If I want to be a complete back, and one of the better backs, that’s one of the things I have to do.
“I think that kind of separates myself from other guys, just running, catching, blocking and being on the field the whole entire game. I think fatigue plays a big role in that. Being in shape, being able to play in the whole game and doing everything.”
A possible hindrance to McCoy’s aspirations is the workload he is expected to handle this year. Head coach Andy Reid has pledged to scale back McCoy’s touches. In 2011, McCoy’s 321 total touches were fourth most in the NFL. He knows quality is more important than quantity.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of touching the ball a lot to get the yards," McCoy said. “I think [it’s more about] the matchups. I think coach this year is going to try to match me up to more advantage on our side.
“I think when he says cut the reps down, meaning like that. And I think that can help me out more, fewer touches. I’ll still be as fresh late in the game. I do a good job of staying fresh, but just the whole entire game.”
McCoy enters training camp with expectations as high as any Eagles running back in recent memory. He finished 2011 with 1,309 rushing and 315 receiving yards to go along with his 20 touchdowns.
Back in May, the Birds inked the 24-year-old to a five-year, $45 million contract extension that will keep him in Philly through 2017. Now, with three years of NFL experience and a new contract, McCoy is ready to add another responsibility to his resume: leadership.
“I think in the beginning of my career, I was more trying to learn, trying to fit in,” McCoy said. “Now that I’m kind of here, I’ve been playing, I feel more like a leader.
“And I think I’m ready. I’m 24. I feel like this is the time now. Coach Reid and the coaching staff and the front office, I feel like they have a lot of confidence in me, so it’s time to step up and be more of a leader.”