Ea­gles should back off from Bell, McCoy

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - Jack McCaf­fery Colum­nist Contact Jack McCaf­fery at jm­c­caf­fery@21stcen­tu­ry­media.com; fol­low him on Twit­ter @Jack­McCaf­fery.

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Le’Veon Bell hasn’t wanted to play for the Steel­ers, not even while tagged as a fran­chise player, not for what they’re pay­ing, no mat­ter how much they could use his run­ning back skills.

LeSean McCoy doesn’t care if he plays for the Buf­falo Bills, or at least that’s how it sounded when he was con­fronted with trade ru­mors and de­clined the op­por­tu­nity to scream oth­er­wise. Nor do the Bills seem to care if he takes his tired off-field act else­where, clearly lis­ten­ing to of­fers to get him out of there and fast.

Two tal­ented backs, both around their ca­reer primes, each ever likely to dis­turb a foot­ball fran­chise with self­ish be­hav­ior. And two backs that the Ea­gles are said to be in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing.

That’s what will hap­pen, if not soon, then by 4 p.m., Oct. 30, when the NFL’s trad­ing floor is closed for the sea­son. One of them likely will join the fran­chise with a weird ad­dic­tion to the bot­tom-of-theTV-screen ticker, al­ways, al­ways look­ing to lead the NFL in adding play­ers likely to cre­ate break­ing news.

What? Was it a co­in­ci­dence that the Ea­gles could ac­quire Michael Vick and Tim Tebow, Ter­rell Owens and Mark Sanchez? It’s what they do. They ac­quire big names, and then they will worry about how it works later. And should they ac­quire Bell or McCoy, they will dom­i­nate the leaguewide con­ver­sa­tion. Party at Lurie’s place af­ter­ward.

For once, though, the Ea­gles should wait. For once, they should re­al­ize that adding Bell or McCoy would be more de­struc­tive than help­ful, even if Jay Ajayi is out for the sea­son, and even if Dar­ren Spro­les isn’t play­ing. They should rec­og­nize that Bell is a quit­ter. They should re­mem­ber that McCoy has been al­leged to have fist-fought with po­lice and to have had a woman thrown out of a party bus. And wasn’t the man known as Shady sued re­cently by an ex-girl­friend who was beaten in a home he’d owned in Ge­or­gia?

As it hap­pened, the Birds 2009 ac­qui­si­tion of Vick, who had re­cently been jailed in con­nec­tion with a grue­some dog-fight­ing op­er­a­tion, turned into a won­der­ful tale of re­demp­tion. Vick was a val­ued team­mate, a strong leader, a pretty good player and a new man. He’d even be­come a lov­ing dog owner. But when he was signed, and at ev­ery Ea­gles game, home or away, for at least a year af­ter­ward, mobs growled and snarled in heated protest, and fans called talk-shows day and night vow­ing never to give an­other dime to an op­er­a­tion so quick to shel­ter a convicted an­i­mal abuser.

If the Ea­gles well should have been blasted for har­bor­ing some­one will­ing to see harm done to an­i­mals, why shouldn’t they be equally ripped if they re-hire a player who was al­leged to have been around so much dam­age done to peo­ple?

Maybe that’s why Howie Rose­man thought he should lis­ten be­fore he acted. Maybe that’s why he asked for a sit­down the other day with Corey Cle­ment, the sec­ond-year back who would be cen­tral to the Birds’ divi­sion-cham­pi­onship hopes.

“He said, ‘Make me be­lieve that we don’t need a back,’” Cle­ment said the other night, af­ter scor­ing a touch­down in a 34-13 vic­tory over the New York Giants. “And you’ve got to take the chal­lenge for what it’s worth. It’s foot­ball. It’s the na­ture of the game. And I be­lieve in the guys in the room that we’ve got.”

The Ea­gles won Thurs­day with Cle­ment and Wen­dell Small­wood in the back­field. Even­tu­ally, Spro­les will re­turn from a ham­string in­jury. By Fri­day, Cle­ment’s state­ment had been bounced off Doug Ped­er­son, who doesn’t make per­son­nel de­ci­sions, but who is paid to keep the Ea­gles high in the stand­ings. That job, though, re­quires just the right mix in the locker room. That’s his job, too.

“Lis­ten, I have to­tal con­fi­dence in our run­ners,” Ped­er­son said. “Now say­ing that, we are con­stantly adding tal­ent, if we can. That’s part of Howie’s job, and Joe Dou­glas’, and our per­son­nel depart­ment. That’s ev­ery po­si­tion on the ros­ter.

“So we are very en­cour­aged, ob­vi­ously, with the cur­rent si­t­u­a­tion. We love those guys, and Josh (Adams) and we’ll get Spro­les back at some point. That’s what we like. But at the same time, are we con­stantly try­ing to add value, add tal­ent? Yeah. We are al­ways go­ing to do that and try to make our ros­ter bet­ter.”

McCoy, 30, rushed for

1,138 yards last sea­son, but has av­er­aged just 42.5 rush­ing yards through four games this sea­son for the Bills. Bell,

25, rushed for 1,291 yards and nine touch­downs last sea­son for Pitts­burgh. Ei­ther could help, at least on game day. But to what ex­tent? With or with­out them, the Ea­gles are go­ing to win the pa­thetic NFC East. But they have not shown enough in other places through a 3-3 start to sug­gest an­other Su­per Bowl run.

So trust Small­wood, ex­pect Spro­les to make a con­tri­bu­tion and see if Cle­ment can con­tinue to grow as a fea­ture back. That added in-sea­son work will help in the post­sea­son.

“Corey’s a huge part of this of­fense,” Car­son Wentz said. “You saw, es­pe­cially later last year, what he brings, both in the pass­ing game and in the run­ning game, screens and ev­ery­thing else that he does. Mix­ing up those run­ning backs and get­ting them touches in dif­fer­ent ways is some­thing Coach does a great job of. And those guys are huge for us.”

Give them a chance. Any other ap­proach could only be a prob­lem.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Could the Ea­gles ring up Steel­ers hold­out Le’Veon Bell or bring back drama king LeSean McCoy from Buf­falo to help their lack of a run­ning at­tack? It might be bet­ter to stick with the backs they have.

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