the running game in the NFC EAST is looking less than glamorous as the season rolls around. The East lost key players such as Emmitt Smith and Stephen Davis. Though the division looks more like a passing playground than a track this year, there are still some very capable running backs. Some players that remain in the black and blue division are Duce Staley with his pinball antics when running through the hole, Tiki Barber and his great breakaway speed, Troy Hambrick who has high expectations to make the Cowboys running game reappear, and Trung Canidate bringing high hopes for Washington. Lets take a look at the running backs in the NFC East in 2003.
Name: Trung Canidate Team: Washington Years pro: 4 H: 5'11 W: 205lbs
Canidate was traded from St. Louis earlier in the off-season. He totaled 17 carries in 2002; Then again, the guy was backing up Marshall Faulk. He gained a reputation throughout the league as being a decent blocker, and a good guy on short yardage situations. He was also used in St. Louis as a receiver. Facing a new situation, Canidate should prosper with his new team. Washington has a very young QB and will probably try to get him used to the Redskins offence by running the ball the first couple plays. Canidate has the confidence in himself to become a good RB. Trung Canidate is coming to an endzone near you.
Name: Troy Hambrick Team: Dallas Years pro: 4 H: 6'1 W: 233lbs
Troy was the backup RB behind Emmitt Smith last year. Now that Emmitt has joined the Arizona Cardinals, he is expected to be Dallas' starting halfback. Last year he tallied 79 attempts and rushed for 317 yards. That is a very solid 4.0 yards per carry. He is known to be a workhorse. Hambrick isn’t the kind of guy that can run for 20 yards on one carry. Troy just keeps pushing up the middle and finds success. He is the kind of guy that can really get your team into a game early. He is very energetic and his teammates feed off of that. Troy is used for short yardage situations. Overall, Troy is finally getting his chance to become a VERY good RB.
Name: Tiki Barber Team: New York Giants Years pro: 7 H: 5'10 W: 200lbs
Tiki rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, it was his second 1,000-yard season in his career. Tiki led the league with average of 4.6 yards per carry. He made his way into the end zone 11 times which was easily a career best. Tiki is durable, as he is not easily injured. He has only missed three games in his seven-year career. He is a reliable running back for the Giants. His speed is terrific. Above all that, he is great in short yardage situations. Since it looks like the G-MEN have given up on Ron Dayne, Tiki will get a lot of carries in the 2003 season. Look for Barber to have a breakout year, and lead many of the NFL rushing categories.
Name: Duce Staley Team: Philadelphia Years pro: 7 H: 5'11 W: 220
Duce Staley brings all sorts of energy to the Eagles. This team feeds off his excitement, especially when he makes his way into the endzone. He rushed for his third 1,000-yard season last year with 1,029 yards. However, he might catch a little heat when it comes to carries this year. Duce missed the first mini-camp earlier this spring because he wanted a new contract. Andy Reid says " There are no excuses. This is a voluntary camp, and that’s okay [if he chooses not to attend], we have 2 other capable RBs who can get the job done" Duce is expected to be the number one RB for the Birds. If he struggles though, look out for guys like Correll Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook to carry the load.
Tiki Barber is the best RB in the NFC EAST. He has the combination of good speed, and is a powerhouse runner. He is always on his game and is a valuable receiver. Tiki is the total package. I predict him to lead the league in many of the rushing categories, and to have yet another 1,000-yard season.