|LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing with 1,019 yards and has 12 touchdowns. (Mike segar/Reuters)|
Concern is real McCoy
Dynamic running back has been hard to stop
FOXBOROUGH - The prospect of the Eagles having to start Vince Young at quarterback for a second straight game in place of Michael Vick (cracked ribs) has gotten a lot of attention this week, but the Patriots know for certain they will have to face running back LeSean McCoy.
McCoy leads the NFL with 1,019 rushing yards and is averaging an impressive 5.4 yards per carry. He is the key to the league’s top-ranked rushing offense, which averages 168.0 yards per game.
Patriots defensive end Andre Carter, who spent the previous five seasons with the Redskins, has faced McCoy in the past, and he talked about containing the Eagles’ run game.
“That’s just one thing they’ve done well, even with Brian Westbrook,’’ Carter said. “In general, we always talk about gap control, playing physical, being consistent, making sure we have a strong seven-man front, because they’re going to get some good plays, as you know, and at the same time we have to adjust, like any other opponent.’’
Barring an injury, McCoy will far exceed his numbers from last year, when he ran for 1,080 yards in 15 games. The third-year back is also a threat as a receiver, with 34 catches this season.
“McCoy is a very dynamic player,’’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “He makes a lot of yards on his own. He’s a very difficult guy to defend and tackle. He’s a very creative runner.
“It looks like he’s stopped for nothing, and then he ends up with a lot of yards, or if he gets into space, then 10 yards can easily be 70.
“I’ve been very impressed watching him. He makes a lot of tacklers miss him and he breaks tackles. He’s got great vision.
“He’s an outstanding player. There are a lot of good backs in this league, but this guy is really in the top category.’’
New England is allowing 105.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 12th.
Tarpinian on IR
The Patriots placed rookie linebacker Jeff Tarpinian on season-ending injured reserve yesterday with what they reported as a head injury. Tarpinian had not practiced since Nov. 16 and didn’t play in the win over the Chiefs Monday night, when he was listed as having an illness.
“Jeff did a good job for us, and we really felt like he was coming along,’’ said Belichick. “Unfortunately, last week he had this thing come up and so we’ll just have to see how it all works out.
“He’s not going to be able to participate for a while. We’re disappointed for him and disappointed for us, but we have to move on.’’
Asked if Tarpinian’s illness was serious, Belichick would say only that it was serious enough to place him on IR.
Belichick said veteran Niko Koutouvides will be called upon to fill Tarpinian’s roles on special teams and defense. Koutouvides, who was with the Patriots in training camp, was brought back Nov. 9.
Receiver Tiquan Underwood was re-signed to fill the open roster spot.
The Eagles apparently avoided a major loss yesterday, as cornerback NnamdiAsomugha was carted off the practice field with a left knee injury but, according to a report, was not seriously hurt. Citing a source familiar with Asomugha’s knee exam, Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com reported via Twitter that the cornerback is sore but “structurally everything is OK.’’ Frank said Asomugha’s status for Sunday’s game is up in the air, but his injury is not long-term and won’t lead to him being placed on IR. Philadelphia is already without cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle) for Sunday. Rodgers-Cromartie, Vick, top receiver Jeremy Maclin (hamstring/shoulder) and tackle King Dunlap (concussion) did not practice. Asomugha and receiver/punt returner DeSean Jackson (foot) were both listed as limited.
Spikes, Fletcher sit
The Patriots again practiced in shells and sweats yesterday. Linebackers Brandon Spikes (knee) and Dane Fletcher (thumb) did not take part . . . New England added receiver Deion Branch to the practice report with a hip injury. He is one of a dozen players listed as limited, along with safety Patrick Chung (foot), center Dan Connolly (groin), linebacker Gary Guyton (shoulder), safety James Ihedigbo (shoulder), tackles Matt Light (ankle) and Sebastian Vollmer, guard Brian Waters (knee), cornerback Devin McCourty (shoulder), and receivers Taylor Price (hamstring), Wes Welker (knee), and Matthew Slater (shoulder). That Light was on the field is a positive sign; when he went down late in Monday night’s game, it did not look good for the veteran, who left the stadium in a walking boot that night.
In a move that comes as no surprise, the Patriots brought back Ross Ventrone, re-signing him to the practice squad. It is the 24th transaction for Ventrone since the Patriots signed him as an undrafted rookie on April 29, 2010, and 16th since the Sept. 3 cutdown day this season . . . Rob Gronkowski will spike a puck when the Worcester Sharks host the Providence Bruins in February. The Sharks, San Jose’s American Hockey League affiliate, will reimburse Gronkowski $7,500, the amount he was fined by the NFL for his spike against the Jets Nov. 13.