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Old 12-07-2017, 05:30 AM   #1
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Teams have found that they no longer need a big-money star to carry the load. Overlooked and underappreciated options can often do the job at a fraction of the price.
More and more, they're finding their way into the NFL, too.
Even in an ever-evolving version in which, it seems, anybody can play running back.

When he got winded, Jerick McKinnon trotted in and ripped off a 55-yard run.
It's not just that hard-luck teams have been forced to use other options because of injuries and suspensions, either. Many teams are using multiple running backs to keep them fresh or provide a change of pace. Some are using wide receivers such as the Seahawks' Percy Harvin on sweeps and other creative running plays. Often, running backs are used extensively in the passing game.
Their combined performance in place of the Vikings' suspended star was only the latest example of a seismic shift in the running back position, once one of the NFL's glamour jobs.
Not exactly the star-studded list of names that fans are accustomed to seeing.
Even teams that still have a clear-cut star,NFL Jerseys China, such as the Chiefs, have plenty of other options. So when Charles went down with a high ankle sprain that caused their star to miss a start in Miami, coach Andy Reid felt comfortable in Davis, Joe McKnight and Cyrus Gray to pick up the slack.
"Coach Reid is a great offensive mind," Charles explained, "and he knows how to put us in the best situation to help our team win. He's been doing this for a long time ? since I was probably a little kid. He knows how to control the game."
Asiata went undrafted out of Utah. McKinnon was picked out of Georgia Southern. Yet Asiata had three touchdowns and McKinnon ran for 135 yards against the Falcons on Sunday, leading him to say he "definitely didn't imagine" that he would have that kind of production.
"Well," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer replied, "he needs to raise his expectation levels."
"All the running backs in this league,Wholesale Basketball Jerseys, they're not bad running backs," said Browns running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who starred for the Eagles in the 1970s and '80s. "All of the guys in the league were stars at some point in their college career."
All of which seems to signal the end of the workhorse running back, that dying breed of Jim Brown, Franco Harris and John Riggins that preceded the pass-happy offenses of the modern era.
The Dolphins' Lamar Miller was the NFL's sixth-leading rusher, even though he was supposed to back up the injured Knowshown Moreno. Terrance West was a breakout star for Cleveland when Ben Tate was sidelined, and Bobby Rainey has been a rare bright spot for Tampa Bay.
"You have to tip your hat to guys who can do the job," Reid said. "Any time you're a relief pitcher and whatever position it is in this league, that's a tough assignment."
Through the first four weeks of the season, 166 different players have logged at least one carry in the NFL,Cheap Jerseys China, not including quarterbacks, according to STATS. That's 20 more players than at the same point a year ago, and a total that has only been eclipsed once since 1989.
The pronounced change in the way NFL teams view running backs is thrown into stark contrast when you compare this year's draft to 2008, when five players were plucked in the first round. That draft also may have represented the last clutch of truly identifiable stars: Rice, Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte.
Davis ran for 132 yards against the Dolphins. McKnight had two touchdowns.
Even when Charles returned this past week, he merely became part of the committee.
"Every team is different. And some of the guys you're talking about are No. 1 guys who've played or they're pretty darn talented guys," Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said. "That's what we're hoping, that we come out of this over the next period and say, 'Hey, these backs are really good and they really contribute and are doing a good job.' We need to find that out."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) ? Matt Asiata had been splendidly impersonating Adrian Peterson when the Minnesota Vikings played the Atlanta Falcons last weekend,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, the relatively unknown running back bludgeoning their backpedaling defense on the first two drives of the game.
Whether it's Justin Forsett taking over for Ray Rice in Baltimore, or Knile Davis poaching carries from All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles in Kansas City,Jerseys NFL Wholesale, illustrations abound these days.
All despite the fact that no running backs have been drafted in the first round the past two years. Bishop Sankey was the highest selected in May, going 54th overall to Tennessee.
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