A happy homecoming for Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy would be sad news for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the first time since becoming a 2009 second-round draft pick, McCoy will be returning to his old college stadium for Sunday’s game against the Steelers (1 p.m. ET, FOX).
McCoy says his fondest memory of playing at the University of Pittsburgh was a 183-yard rushing performance that paced a 2008 victory over West Virginia at Heinz Field.
“That was big fun,” McCoy said.
With the way McCoy and Pittsburgh’s run defense have performed this season, a similar outing isn’t out of the question.
McCoy is coming off his best performance of the season — a 23-carry, 123-yard effort that paced Sunday’s 19-17 home victory over the New York Giants. The Steelers have surrendered an uncharacteristic average of 101 rushing yards in their first three games. Darren McFadden gashed Pittsburgh for 113 yards on 18 carries, including a 64-yard touchdown jaunt, during Oakland’s 34-31 victory in Week 3.
If McCoy passes the century mark, it will mark the first time the Steelers surrendered back-to-back rushing performances of 100-plus yards since the 2002 campaign.
Lawrence Timmons told FOXSports.com that part of Pittsburgh’s bye week focus was fixing the run defense.
“We have some holes here and there,” said Timmons, whose 20 tackles are second on the team behind fellow inside linebacker Larry Foote (28). “We’re working on it. We’re going to be fine.”
Pittsburgh’s defense has reason for confidence with two key injured players, free safety Troy Polamalu and outside linebacker James Harrison, set to return Sunday. Both will be put to the test trying to contain one of the NFL’s top rushers and receivers out of the backfield. McCoy ranks fourth among all players since 2010 in yards from scrimmage with 3,739.
“He has great vision and a great jump-cut that frees him from tackles,” Timmons said.
During a conference call with Steelers media, McCoy said he has purchased “tons of tickets” for Sunday’s contest. He also understands that any loyalty from Pitt faithful likely will be superseded by their love of the Steelers.
“They’re 1-2. This is a big game for them,” McCoy said of the Steelers. “They never have a record like that. They’re always winning. I hope the fans react well but I won’t be mad if they don’t.”