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Running Backs Set to Dominate Starting Position
Who knew running backs would ever become a thing again? The fact that Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook have starting spots in camp says volumes. Rookies are taking over and the starters ahead of them are suffering as a result. One wonders how the betting odds for the 2017 NFL season will change as a result.
Pundits have been touting a number of rookie running backs as potential starters in 2017. The most prominent include the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry. The Titans are going to have a hard time choosing between Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
Murray stands to lose playing time because of Derrick. And some might think this a shame because Murray is as good a running back as any, the sort of athlete that would get any NFL side excited. But you need Derrick Henry because he can fit into and encourage the big plays. And his potential is something special. Murray will get playing time but the coaching staff would be foolish not to unleash Derrick at some point.
The New York Jets do not need Matt Forte. And that matters because Bilal Powell is typically second-team back when Forte is healthy. But what can Forte possibly bring to the team? The Jets must know that their ship has all but sunk and Forte cannot change it. Rationally speaking, Forte shouldn’t be around for much longer.
The worst thing the New York Jets could do is to hold onto Forte for so long that he loses his value. The sooner they start shopping him around, the sooner Bilal Powell can get his time to shine. Most Pundits agree that Bilal will begin showing his mettle once he has more of a load to carry.
Bilal proved as much when he took over for Forte last season.
Jamaal Williams’ situation is a little more straightforward. Granted, the Green Bay Packers will not ignore the amazing first season Ty Montgomery delivered. The athlete’s average of 5.9 yards per carry is no joke.
But Jamaal is physically tough and mentally astute, and the sort of runner the Packers could nurture into an unstoppable force. There is little doubt that Williams will move up, displacing Ty to more of a third-down role.
For the Cincinnati Bengals, there isn’t much of a contest between Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill. And if you thought Hill couldn’t possibly still be listed as starting running back for the Bengals, you’re not the only one that doesn’t understand why he is still there. The last two years haven’t been kind to Hill.
Mixon, on the other hand, is the sort of agile and elusive rookie that the Bengals need to transform their offense into the game-breaking threat it could be. And it is unlikely that the Bengals will redshirt him for a year like they normally do.
The contest between Christian McCaffrey and Jonathan Stuart is the most even of the ones mentioned so far. When you have a solid running back being compared to a versatile athlete with big-play potential, the only solution is to have the two split first-team duties. But McCaffrey will definitely be pulling a heavy workload in no time at all.
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