A 'leaner' LeSean McCoy 'so much more effective'

A 'leaner' LeSean McCoy 'so much more effective'
July 31, 2014, 3:15 pm
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LeSean McCoy, who is "leaner" this training camp, led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards last season. (USA Today Images)

No more “Doritos and sauce” late at night. That’s how he put it. LeSean MCoy slimmed down during the offseason. He had an excellent year. He could have relaxed and come back around the same size. Instead, McCoy watched what he ate. He paid attention to portions. He trained.

McCoy has shed a few pounds. Last year, he played somewhere in the 215-pound range. He’s down to somewhere between 209-211 pounds. If that doesn’t sound like much, it was enough for Pat Shurmur to offer, unsolicited, that McCoy looks “leaner” And he does. Those five-or-so pounds, McCoy said, make him feel different.

“At a lighter [weight], I feel like I’m so much more effective,” McCoy said. “I looked at all my old film and saw how much quicker I was when I was 210 [pounds], 209. It’s a big difference. And I’m feeling like that again. I’ve always made plays. Even last year.”

He made plenty of plays last year. McCoy led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards. He added 539 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. McCoy said he wanted to be “a little bulkier” a year ago. This season, he’s subscribing to a different notion: that “the quicker you are, the faster you are, the better.”

“He’s a very shifty runner,” Shurmur said. “He has the ability to make a guy miss. That’s why, through his career, he’s been able to get so many yards. He’s got great vision. And he’s really come into camp in great shape. You can just look at him and see that he’s leaner.”

At any size, McCoy has consistently been one of the most elusive running backs in the NFL. Each year, he ranks among the league leaders in broken tackles by a running back. McCoy had 366 total touches last season. According to Football Outsiders, he had 51 broken tackles, which was second in the league, trailing only steamrolling running back Marshawn Lynch, who had 59. Among running backs with more than a 120 carries, McCoy was second in broken tackle rate at 13.9 percent. The year before, McCoy had 44 broken tackles, which tied him with Minnesota monster Adrian Peterson for the league lead.

McCoy is big enough, even at 209 pounds, to be physical with tacklers when necessary. But unlike Lynch, who tends to run over people rather than making them miss, McCoy is often willing to go around would-be tacklers by shaking them with spins, and feints designed to leave them grasping at empty air. Sometimes he strings together a combination of moves. Or, if none of that works and he can’t go around or through the opponent, he’s not opposed to leaping over him.

“I play with leverage,” McCoy said. “Certain guys are different. A guy like Marshawn Lynch, he’s more of a running through a guy. Mine is to get a guy off balance and going through an arm tackle, go through a shoulder, those types of things. Get them going one way and try to hit the other side.”

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