Tuck: NFL Running Back Battles To Watch

By Mike Tuck
Host, Tuck & O'Neill

NEW YORK JETS

Chris Ivory vs. Mike Goodson vs. Bilal Powell vs. Joe McKnight

You have the two new guys against the two old guys.  Ivory is considered the favorite with flashes of excellence he showed in New Orleans the Jets gave up a draft pick to get him.  Goodson has always been more a change of pace back so the real battle could be him against McKnight for passing down duties.

NEW ENGLAND

Steven Ridley vs. Shane Vereen

Yes, Ridley should be the starter, but we are talking about Bill Belichick, right?  Vereen looked really fast in small doses a year ago, and may gobble up as many plays on the field as the more versatile player.  That alone may make him the more productive back, even with Ridley getting most of the goal-line work.

CINCINNATI

Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis vs. Giovani Bernard vs. Rex Burkhead

There is nothing exciting about the lawfirm, so if the North Carolina play-maker has a good season he could easily supplant Green-Ellis.  Burkhead is another name to keep an eye on in preseason to see if he can carve out a role.  Bernard has the most upside of the bunch.

PITTSBURGH

Le’Veon Bell vs. Jonathon Dwyer vs. Isaac Redman vs. La’Rod Stephens-Howling

Talk about plodding.  The rookie Bell was a big workhorse back at Michigan State, known for hurdling opponents like LeGerrett Blount has in the NFL and will have a pretty good shot at winning the starting job, but I got a feeling this is headed for an all-out season-long committee.  Stephens-Howling is simply the passing down back, but that may make him as relevant as any of the other three.

INDIANAPOLIS

Ahmad Bradshaw vs. Vick Ballard vs. Donald Brown

The former Giant Bradshaw is the favorite to win starting duties against the ordinary incumbent Ballard, but is hurt and can’t stay healthy.  Brown made some explosive plays last year, and at least deserves a mention.  Could be messy all year.

DENVER

Montee Ball vs. Ronnie Hillman vs. Knowshon Moreno

Ball is getting plenty of summer hype, but is he a better player than Moreno?  Can’t say for sure just yet.  Hillman is tiny, and looked it last year losing yards more often than he gained them.  FB Jacob Hester snatched away some goal-line carries last year, but Ball probably should have success in that area with all of his record-setting touchdown scoring he did at Wisconsin.

NEW YORK GIANTS

David Wilson vs. Andre Brown

Wilson should win the job, but the fact Brown could factor in along the goal-line makes this battle something to monitor.

DETROIT

Reggie Bush vs. Mikel LeShoure

Another obvious/not-so-obvious one.  Clearly the Lions want Bush to be the starter, but LeShoure could still vulture goal-line opportunities and be counted on for as much as 40% of the carries with Bush’s role in the passing game being his major advantage.

GREEN BAY

Eddie Lacy vs. Johnathan Franklin vs. DuJuan Harris

As of today, no clue.  Lacy and Franklin were both excellent college players, who didn’t have any major weaknesses.  Both should beat out Harris, and could share carries all season.  The Packers are a pass-heavy team though, and that shouldn’t change, so even if the more physical Lacy is in on short-yardage situations, it doesn’t mean they’ll give it to him.

MINNESOTA

Adrian Peterson vs. just kidding.  Just making sure you’re paying attention

CAROLINA

Jonathan Stewart vs. DeAngelo Williams vs. Kenjon Barner

You’re well aware of this one, as it’s gone on for a handful of years now.  This will be your typical split unless someone goes down injured, and both players have gotten dinged in the past.  Barner could only complicate things.

NEW ORLEANS

Mark Ingram vs. Darren Sproles vs. Pierre Thomas

Going strong in year three with this trio.  Ingram showed no signs of taking the job and looks like a 1st round bust.  Sproles is still the best bet of the bunch because of what he does in the pass-heavy Saints offense.  Thomas is probably still likely to be on the field as much as Ingram, and probably will do more with his chances.

ARIZONA

Rashard Mendenhall vs. Ryan Williams vs. Andre Ellington vs. Stepfan Taylor

The former Steeler Mendenhall is the leader in the clubhouse heading to camp.  Williams needs to stay healthy to show what he can do, if anything.  Ellington is smaller, but incredibly explosive and Taylor is steady, and could emerge as a surprise starter with oft-injured players in front of him.

ST. LOUIS

Daryl Richardson vs. Isaiah Pead vs. Terrance Gannaway vs. Zac Stacey

Marshall Faulk.  Steven Jackson.  A position of certainty for many years is now in flux.  Three second year players and a rookie.  Reminds me a little of the Redskins situation a year ago, in that you had 3 strong possibilities for a coach that never minded playing everyone, but one guy emerged in Alfred Morris.  Could be a season-long timeshare or one guy could take the job and run with it.  Keep a close eye on it through the preseason.

 

 

 

 

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