ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Given the NFL-leading pace he’s established in his eighth season, LeSean McCoy has no reason to believe he’s running out of time.
The Buffalo Bills’ running back went so far as to suggest on Tuesday there’s at least three more prime years left in his 28-year-old body.
“I feel young. I feel good. I’m not like other backs that only take a pounding,” McCoy said. “So I’m not really concerned about time.”
Just to be safe, he knocked on the wooden podium for luck.
Otherwise, it hasn’t been easy for anyone to contain McCoy.
He has nearly single-handedly been the key reason why the Bills (7-7) are still mathematically alive in the AFC playoff race.
Buffalo doesn’t control its destiny and could be eliminated by various scenarios this weekend, including a loss against AFC East rival Miami (9-5) on Saturday.
As part of the league’s top running attack, McCoy’s 5.5 yards per run ranks first among players with 200 or more carries. His 1,129 yards rushing rank fifth, and he’s fourth in scoring with 13 touchdowns (including one receiving).
Add in 333 yards receiving, and McCoy’s 1,462 yards from scrimmage represent 30 percent of Buffalo’s total output.
Coach Rex Ryan shudders when asked where the Bills would be without McCoy.
“I don’t know, but I’m not going to waste my time thinking about it,” Ryan said. “I told him the other day, `Golly, it’s like you’re second or third year in the league.’ I mean, the guy’s having a phenomenal season.”
Except for an injury to his left hamstring that sidelined him for six quarters in October, McCoy has fully rebounded from last season, his first in Buffalo, when hamstring and knee injuries slowed his production.
Acquired in a trade with Philadelphia, the NFL’s 2013 rushing leader finished with 895 yards rushing and 1,187 yards from scrimmage — the second-lowest total of McCoy’s career — in 12 games.
This season, McCoy has topped 100 yards rushing six times this season, including a season-best 153-yard, two-touchdown outing in a 33-13 win over Cleveland last weekend. He’s part of an offense that has set a franchise record by scoring 27 touchdowns rushing.
What troubles McCoy is a belief he can do even more, saying there are several plays he wished he could have over again.
“If I’m not playing well, I’ll say it,” he said. “You start talking about 30 percent (of the offense), but there’s also some room for improvement in different runs, different reads, that I can get better with.”
None of his teammates are criticizing McCoy.
“He’s a stud,” guard Richie Incognito said. “We get these creative game plans going and we get guys blocked up and he makes us look good. He’s out there razzling and dazzling.”
It helps that McCoy doesn’t forget about his offensive linemen during touchdown celebrations.
For the second time this season on Sunday, McCoy scored and allowed Incognito to handle the duties of spiking the ball in the end zone.
“Having some fun. Letting them know that I appreciate them,” McCoy said.
What separates McCoy has been his shiftiness and ability to avoid taking many direct hits.
“His lateral quickness, that’s one of the things that I think he’s really elite at,” offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said. “Straight-line speed, a lot of backs can run a straight line. But LeSean can move laterally just as fast as he can go forward. And that’s special.”
Lynn, a former NFL running back, took over the job after Greg Roman was fired two weeks into the season.
One of the adjustments Lynn has made is having McCoy lining up deeper in the backfield to provide him more time to see openings develop and adapt on the run.
McCoy is looking ahead to facing the Dolphins after he managed a season-low 11 yards rushing in a 28-25 loss at Miami on Oct. 23. He was limited to playing just the first half and missed the following week’s game due to a sore left hamstring.
“We let that game slip away. So we’re definitely going to pay them back,” McCoy said. “I can’t wait to get out there and perform.”
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