Bills confident in LeSean McCoy despite suddenly crowded backfield

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

For the last three seasons, LeSean McCoy has been the man. Commanding a vast majority of the team’s carries, he has long been the Buffalo Bills’ most talented skill position player.

But coming off the worst season of his career, at 31, things will be different. With several new additions in the backfield, McCoy won’t see the lion’s share anymore.

Still, despite the Bills adding several notable names, the team still believes he’ll have a bounce-back season and return as a key contributor.

“I’m not concerned,” Bills general manager Brandon Beane said, via WBR 550 Sports Radio. “I think LeSean still can play. If not, we would have made the decision to move on. I think he's embraced the competition this spring. Guys handle competition in different ways. I don't think he's shied away from it. ... But we're focused on this year. That's what we have him under contract for, and I definitely think he's got enough left in the tank to help us in 2019.”

The Bills hope competition improves every running back

McCoy eclipsed 1,100 total yards in eight straight seasons before putting up just 752 total yards and three touchdowns on a career-worst 3.2 yards per carry in 2018. While he’s unlikely to return to his All-Pro form, the Bills are hoping a more measured workload could increase his productivity.

Chris Ivory, who was second on the team with 115 rushes, is gone, but the team used a third-round pick on Devin Singletary while bringing in veterans Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. That’s to say nothing of Marcus Murphy and other potential special team contributors.

Gore, in particular, figures to eat heavily into McCoy’s workload. He’s not quite the pass-catcher that Shady is, but he still picked up 4.6 yards per carry last season with the Miami Dolphins in a timeshare with Kenyan Drake.

“I'd rather have too many than not enough. We're looking for the best 53 players,” Beane said. “I like the room that we have in there, and I'm looking forward to the competition. I think the two older vets are going to push each other and going to provide a lot of competition to that room.”

Beane said he doesn’t “know how (the competition) will shake out” but by lighting a fire under each player and giving them smaller workloads, more can be expected on a per-touch basis.

LeSean McCoy will share a much more crowded backfield with the Bills this season. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)
LeSean McCoy will share a much more crowded backfield with the Bills this season. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

McCoy is still confident: ‘It’s hard to replace a guy like me’

If McCoy is nervous about a shrinking role, he hasn’t showed it yet. The 10-year veteran said that being underestimated has long motivated him, and this is just another test.

Additionally, the Bills’ other offseason moves could prime McCoy for a resurgence. Not only did they draft a first-round talent in Oklahoma tackle Cody Ford, they also signed three more linemen in free agency, led by former Kansas City Chiefs center Mitch Morse.

“It’s hard to replace a guy like me,” McCoy said last month, via PennLive. “I’m a good player and I feel like now, this year, they put a lot of guys around me. The front office got me some big hogs up front. And we’ll see what happens this year. I feel good and hopefully this year will speak for itself.”

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