Vick and McCoy's Usage Should be Monitored During Early Portion of Schedule

Vick and McCoy's Usage Should be Monitored During Early Portion of Schedule

The Washington Redskins defense weren’t the only ones who looked completely exhausted by the end of the Eagles’ 33-27 win on Monday night. Michael Vick was hit seven times on dropbacks and ran nine times with the football, and was noticeably hobbled in the final minutes. By his career-high 31st carry, LeSean McCoy practically needed to be scraped off of the turf.

Usage is going to be a concern all season as long as Chip Kelly’s offense keeps moving at 100 miles per hour, inevitably leading the NFL in plays from scrimmage. Vick has only made it through a 16-game season once in his life to begin with, while Shady is currently on pace for 496 carries which would absolutely destroy Larry Johnson’s record 416.

Obviously McCoy isn’t going to touch the ball 500 times in a season, and only Vick can truly protect himself, but the question remains. How are these guys going to survive the season at this torrid pace?

Forget the season. The first true test with regard to these heavy workloads will arrive in eight days. The Eagles host the San Diego Chargers this Sunday, then must turn right around and play a game against the Kansas City Chiefs four days later next Thursday.

If you think Vick is limping around now, and Shady seemed gassed on Monday, what condition do you imagine they’ll be in after they’ve played their third full NFL game in a span of 11 days?

It’s a little simpler to conserve Shady, at least in theory. Bryce Brown did have nine carries at Washington, and figures to be featured in that spell role going forward. Chris Polk was conspicuously absent from the offense this week, but he’ll likely get some touches in the future.

Of course, McCoy was the only person Chip could rely on the salt the lead away in the fourth quarter, a big reason for his inflated number of carries. Brown hasn’t yet shaken the reputation that he’s prone to fumbles, and they haven’t even trusted Polk enough to give him the ball at all.

How they plan to keep Vick upright is another dilemma entirely. This is the same guy who took it upon himself to become Shady’s lead blocker on Monday – twice! As much as you have to like it when your quarterback is doing whatever it takes to win, Vick’s lack of an “off” switch and unwillingness to concede a play is over are going to get him killed – as usual.

Not much Chip or anybody else can do for Vick at this point. McCoy’s load is the real issue here.

It will be interesting to see how the snaps are divided at running back in the coming weeks, but the recipe calls for more Brown with a dash of Polk. The Eagles should lean on those two more earlier in games especially, so the biggest weapon in that backfield is still at the team’s full disposal when the fourth quarter rolls around.

Chip was asked about the proximity of the games at his day-after press conference, and didn't sound concerned in the least:

We've known the schedule since we got here.  We know every game is the ultimate importance for us.  There's no way you can say, Hey, we got another game next Thursday, let's focus and concentrate on that.  I think everybody's attention is on getting ready to play San Diego.  That's what this thing is all about.

It’s great to have a head coach who is committed to the running game, but the new challenge is finding the right balance of playing time for one of the best backs in the league. Chip Kelly seems to have a plan for everything though, so it’s possible there isn’t really a problem here at all.

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

Best of NBA: Dwyane Wade hits dagger 3-pointer in Bulls debut

CHICAGO -- Dwyane Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade nailed a 3 from the corner in the final minute to make it a five-point game. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

The Bulls remade their roster in the offseason, jettisoning one hometown superstar and welcoming another when they traded Derrick Rose to New York and signed Wade to a two-year deal worth about $47 million in a move that stunned Miami.

The three-time NBA champion and 12-time All-Star is off to a good start with the Bulls after 13 seasons with the Heat.

Wade hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in this game after making just seven all of last season (see full recap).

New-look Hawks roll past Wizards
ATLANTA -- Dwight Howard dominated the boards in his Atlanta debut, Paul Millsap scored 28 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. ignited the new-look Hawks to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in their season opener Thursday night.

Howard grabbed 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points, just what the Hawks expected from their new center, and it certainly wasn't unusual for three-time All-Star Millsap to lead the way in scoring.

But Hardaway's performance was totally unexpected given the way he struggled in his first season with the Hawks, when he was largely confined to the bench and even forced to spend time in the D-League.

He scored 21 points, matching his high in an Atlanta uniform, and broke open a close game with back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth. The Hawks, who led only 81-80 heading to the final period, outscored the Wizards 33-19 over the final 12 minutes (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

Best of NHL: Canadiens rally past Lightning for 6th straight win

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty scored the tiebreaking goal in Montreal's three-goal third period as the Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night for their sixth straight win.

Alex Galchenyuk and Torrey Mitchell also scored to help Montreal improve to 7-0-1. Carey Price made 29 saves to win for the fourth time in four starts this season.

Alex Killorn scored the lone goal for the Lightning, who lost against an Eastern-Conference opponent for the first time this season. Ben Bishop stopped 23 shots.

With the scored tied 1-1, Pacioretty got the go-ahead goal at 10:23 by beating Bishop glove-side. Blown coverage by the Lightning left the Canadiens' captain all alone on the edge of the face-off circle, and Bishop couldn't see the shot with Andrew Shaw posted firmly in front of goal.

Montreal remains the only NHL team still undefeated in regulation (see full recap).

Crosby's late goal gives Penguins win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel also scored -- each getting his third of the season -- to help the Penguins win for the third time in four games and improve to 5-0-1 at home.

Crosby, playing for the second straight game after missing the first six with a concussion, scored with 2:25 left as he caught a pass from Scott Wilson at the top of the crease and quickly turned to his forehand to put the puck behind Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak.

Kessel added a power-play goal to cap the scoring 32 seconds later.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 35 shots while starting for the eighth straight game.

Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince scored for the Islanders, and Halak finished with 31 saves (see full recap).

Streaking Red Wings win marathon shootout vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Henrik Zetterberg scored in the eighth round of a shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Zetterberg's goal gave the Red Wings a six-game winning streak.

In the shootout, St. Louis' first shooter, Alexander Steen, scored but then Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, David Perron, Nail Yakupoc, Robby Fabbri, Patrick Burgland and Dmitrjij Jaskin all came up short.

Gustav Nyquist scored on Detroit's second attempt but Frans Nielsen, Dylan Larkin, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheehan and Darren Helm all missed.

St. Louis had the better chances in overtime. Center Jaden Schwartz missed a wide-open net early in the extra session. Jori Lehtera was stopped on a breakaway midway through the period by Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek (see full recap).