Situations Arising

By Zack Cimini

Injuries, fumbling problems, and age all lead to the quick downfall of a starting running back. For years they are catapulted into the limelight and give 100 percent of their body for franchises. All of that quickly means nothing to the front office, as they need a new fresh physical speed demon. The back that has sacrificed his body is thrown in the dust, and an after thought when that team finally makes it from point b to point a.

So why when a running back turns their back on a franchise is it all of the sudden wrong? Barry Sanders abruptly left, followed by Robert Smith, and then during the summer Ricky Williams. Williams?s reason was different as he exposed his thoughts on 60 minutes last weekend. Still in all if anyone was watching the pounding Williams was taking, it wouldn?t have been much longer before Williams suffered a serious injury. There is only so much that a body can take, and the Dolphins were giving Williams 400 carries a year.

The old days of having an every day bruiser are long gone. Most great teams have a nice one two combination to keep their backs fresh and the defense off balance. It?s logically a better idea, because the defense has to prepare for two different styles and still focus on the quarterback. It was the type of situation Buffalo had in mind this season, but Travis Henry quickly went down with a leg injury. Willis McGahee was forced to take on extra carries, and has had more than 25 carries in five games. It leads to a lot of red zone touchdowns for him, but you can tell he has worn out before the season is even over.

This is after a serious knee injury just two years earlier. Usually backs are brought along slower to get back in the rhythm and adjust to be on the safe side. Buffalo is now likely to let Travis Henry go, and put their whole faith into McGahee. Who?s to say that McGahee doesn?t falter in the off-season because of the pressure put on his knee this year? With Drew Bledsoe improving and Lee Evans stepping up across Eric Moulds, it may be wise for the Bills to spread it out more.

Jamal Anderson is the prime example of a running back left in the dust. Six years ago the Falcons were having an unbelievable year and had everyone doing the dirty bird. He had 410 carries that year, and less than eight months later went down with a serious injury. A year and a half later he had absolutely no love from the Falcons, and was forced to compete at the Patriots training camp. The rigorous affects of the 1998 season completely shut down Anderson?s body physically, and he never was successful on a comeback.

With Priest Holmes having suffered an injury, Larry Johnson has stepped in and produced just as well. The Chiefs were on the verge of giving up on Johnson, and now they?re saying to themselves wait a minute. Here is the guy that we drafted in the first place to take over for Holmes. With Holmes just reaching the age of 30, there will need to be a bold decision reached by the Chiefs in the off season. There isn?t room for Holmes, Blaylock, and Johnson all on the same roster. Will they keep their faith in Holmes, and trade one of their backs? More than likely they?ll keep Johnson and Holmes and let a situation develop during the season.

That eventual story is exactly what is happening in St. Louis. Marshall Faulk has had a tough time staying healthy, but even when he is on the field the Rams don?t use him nearly enough. It?s a strange philosophy that Mike Martz plotted in his head to throw the ball 100 times a game, instead of running the football.

Jackson has had 100 carries for about 500 yards, and has fantasy owners drooling for the minute Faulk is gone permanently. It?ll happen rather soon folks, as the past examples of star running backs aren?t a phase they?re a trend. It?s a shame and franchises want to know why players aren?t giving it their all on a weekly basis. Randy Moss was one of the first stars to admit it, but you can bet he isn?t the only one.


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