ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) LeSean McCoy never envisioned having the opportunity to reach 10,000 yards rushing, let alone 1, given how badly he botched a scoring chance before playing his first regular-season game.
”We were on like the 2- or 3-yard line, and we’ve been practicing this play all week,” the Buffalo Bills running back said, recalling what happened in the second quarter of Philadelphia’s 33-22 preseason win over Jacksonville on Aug. 27, 2009, during his rookie year with the Eagles.
”As I’m running to catch it, I lost the ball in the light, and it hit me in the back of my helmet. The defender picked it up and ran it all the way back for a touchdown,” McCoy said, laughing at the recollection of linebacker Brian Iwuh’s 92-yard fumble return.
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”That’s embarrassing,” he added. ”You know, Philadelphia, as a rookie doing that, you go to a restaurant and they probably won’t serve you.”
Whether it’s cheesesteaks in Philly or chicken wings in Buffalo, McCoy can dine just about anywhere he wants these days.
In his ninth season, McCoy has 9,961 yards rushing and is on the cusp of becoming the 30th player to reach 10,000 in a milestone he can hit as early as Sunday, when Buffalo (7-6) hosts Miami (6-7).
Wearing a Bills-colored blue hoodie with the words ”We Chasing 10K” on the front, McCoy on Wednesday said he’s more focused on getting a win for a Bills team with little margin for error in its bid to stay in the AFC playoff picture.
McCoy also made clear he has even loftier objectives before he’s done. How about 12,000 yards?
It’s not lost on McCoy that 14 of the 16 players who have topped 12,000 yards rushing are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And the only two not inducted are still playing: Indianapolis’ Frank Gore (13,827 yards rushing) and Arizona’s Adrian Peterson (12,276).
”Ten thousand is a big part, don’t get me wrong, but I have a lot more things to accomplish,” the NFL’s 2013 rushing champ said, noting a Super Bowl ring is also on his bucket list.
At 29, the player nicknamed ”Shady” ranks 43rd with 13,195 yards from scrimmage – 245 yards from passing former Rams receiver Torry Holt to crack the top 40. He’s tied for 40th with 65 touchdowns rushing, and tied for 60th with 79 touchdowns overall, including 14 receiving.
McCoy is also in the position to become the league’s first player with at least 10,000 yards rushing, 400 catches, 75 touchdowns (65 rushing, 14 receiving) while averaging 4.5 yards per carry or better.
McCoy’s production has been inconsistent this season in which he’s been held under 50 yards rushing five times. He also failed to score in his first five games before a two-touchdown outing in a 30-27 win over Tampa Bay.
One issue has been adapting to a new blocking scheme under first-year coordinator Rick Dennison. Another factor is facing defenses keying on stopping McCoy because Buffalo’s popgun passing attack lacks a viable deep threat.
And yet, with 1,007 yards rushing, McCoy’s topped 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career. And has four 100-yard games, including a 156-yard effort on a snow-covered field last weekend, in which McCoy sealed a 13-7 overtime win against Indianapolis with a 21-yard touchdown run.
Guard Richie Incognito said the linemen are motivated to help McCoy achieve his goal.
”Anytime your running back is racking up stats like that, it’s like cub scouts get those little patches,” said Incognito, who occasionally gets to spike the ball after McCoy scores.
”Shady takes great care of us,” he said. ”It’s fun blocking for a guy like that because any play can be a home run.”
Drafted by Philadelphia in the second round out of Pittsburgh, McCoy credits former Eagles running back and current assistant coach Duce Staley for challenging him to be the best. McCoy has also built a bond with Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas.
”Last game he was like, `Hey, I’ve seen you play in the snow before, so I expect a big game. If not, don’t text me later,”’ McCoy said. ”I like when Thurman can criticize me in a positive way, it helps me out.”
With 12,074 yards rushing, Thomas is 16th on the career list, leaving McCoy to dream of being in such company.
”That would be dope,” McCoy said. ”That’s one thing that, when I leave this game, I want my name to be recognized with a lot of the other top backs.”
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