Devin Singletary’s injury clears the way for Frank Gore to pass Barry Sanders in record book

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor

The Buffalo Bills ruled out rookie running back Devin Singletary for their Week 3 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, which can only mean one thing: The immortal Frank Gore is back.

Head coach Sean McDermott announced that the 36-year-old Gore will take over the bulk of the carries for the team, which gives him a good shot to keep moving up the record books.

Gore came into the season ranked fourth all-time among rushing leaders and only 521 yards behind Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders. With 88 yards through two games, there was some question about whether he could reach 15,269 career rushing yards, but that looks far more attainable now.

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Gore’s longevity is nearly unprecedented

It took the Bills cutting LeSean McCoy in the preseason, a hamstring injury to Singletary and a disappointing camp from T.J. Yeldon for Gore to take over as a starting running back at this age, but that doesn’t take away from how impressive it is.

As Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm noted, Gore could become the third 36-year-old to ever pick up 20 carries in a game and the first since Marcus Allen in 1996. He picked up 68 yards on 19 carries in last week's win over the New York Giants.

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Gore’s durability has been the secret to his success over the years. Not only has he continued to chug along to his 15th NFL season, but he’s only missed two games since 2011.

Gore may only have eclipsed 5.0 yards per carry once in his career — his second season in 2006 — but he's been as consistent as they come. Even last season, he picked up 4.6 yards per carry with the Miami Dolphins at age 35.

Frank Gore will carry the load for the Bills with rookie Devin Singletary out. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
Frank Gore will carry the load for the Bills with rookie Devin Singletary out. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

How much longer can Gore go?

Especially as the starting back for a few weeks, Gore seems likely to surpass Sanders, but Walter Payton’s second-place mark of 16,726 career yards seems out of reach.

A more attainable goal for Gore would be to play another season. If he can play in 2020, that would give him 16 seasons, matching a mark set by Allen for the most seasons for an NFL running back. Playing two more seasons would be literally unheard of.

NFL teams continue to get younger as they look to save money on rookie contracts, but Gore has been happy to play on dirt cheap contracts. He only made $1.105 million in 2018 and is set to make $2 million this season, so seemingly the only thing standing in the way of him and the record books is his own health and will to play.

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