Surrounded by Former Eagles, LeSean McCoy as Good as Ever, Building Hall of Fame Case

After running four times for 21 yards and catching an 11-yard pass against his former team, LeSean McCoy contemplated his cameo performance in the Eagles-Bills preseason game.

"Felt good," he said. "If it was a real game? I probably would have gone for about 130."

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He hasn't changed.

McCoy, the leading rusher in Eagles history, has been gone for three years now, and in the relative anonymity of Orchard Park, N.Y., is quietly putting up some staggering numbers, building on his six years with the Eagles.

Hard to believe McCoy is now starting his ninth NFL season, but he just turned 29 and at least based on last year is as good as ever.

If not better.

"When I was younger I could eat bad and hang out and then still be LeSean McCoy," he said Thursday night in the Bills' locker room. "Where now I'm older so I've got to watch what I eat, get some sleep. Small things that you didn't think would matter that really do matter."

It seems to be paying off. McCoy last year ran for nearly 1,300 yards with an NFL-leading 5.4 average, 14 touchdowns and 50 catches. He became the fourth-oldest back in NFL history to average at least 5.4 yards per carry and the first from that group in 70 years to also score 14 TDs.

McCoy's 5.4 average last year was fifth-highest in NFL history by a back 28 or older.

He said he feels like he's as good as ever.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I'm sure a lot of defenders from different teams and coordinators will tell you that. This year, I have to prove myself again. It's one of the things that I've been doing since I've been in the league when I was a rookie. And I look forward to the challenge.

"But the cool thing about it is is that it won't be as hard because of the guys I have around me. My linemen are really good. They give me opportunities in space to go 1-on-1 with defenders."

McCoy, whose 4.7 career average is tied for 10th in NFL history among non-quarterbacks, said one of the keys to his late-career success - which is rare for running backs - is the lessons he learned from former teammates like Brian Westbrook and Darren Sproles.

"Just talking to different guys," he said. "A guy like Westbrook telling me different things. You actually see it. Sproles is always talking about it, 'Take care of your body,' telling me that the whole year, even the offseason, you want to stay at the same weight. So right now I'm probably 209, 210, and I started out at 209, 210, so that's great."

McCoy has the 10th-most yards ever by a running back before his 29th birthday, and seven of the eight ahead of him who are eligible for the Hall of Fame are already in.

With three more years at his career averages - 1,119 rushing yards, 48 receptions - he'll be over 12,000 rushing yards and 500 catches, and all four backs who've done that (LaDainian Tomlinson, Marcus Allen, Emmitt Smith and Marshall Faulk) have been enshrined in Canton. And Shady has a far higher per-carry average than any of those four.

Because of his consistency and explosiveness, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has become a realistic goal for the Eagles' second-round pick out of Pitt.

He said he doesn't think about that stuff.

Well, sometimes.

"I think the biggest number that you want to get is a ring," he said. "This team, we haven't been in the playoffs in quite some time (since 1999). Hopefully, we get that established, accomplish that, and then if I get lucky and get a ring, man, then I start thinking about the numbers.

"But it's always in the back of my mind. I use that to kind of motivate me, whether it's a ring or chasing different yardage, it keeps me motivated."

McCoy is surrounded by familiar faces in Buffalo. New Bills head coach Sean McDermott was here with him in Philly, as was offensive line coach Juan Castillo and offensive assistant Chad Hall. Jordan Poyer and Jordan Matthews were with him in Philly. Even new Bills PR director Derek Boyko was with him all six years with the Eagles.

"All my old guys," he said. "I was excited when Sean got the job, I'm familiar with him, I know what type of attitude he'll bring here - which we need. All the coaches and guys here, we have our Philly stories. It's a special place, and a lot of people who come from here always show love and speak highly of playing with the Eagles and that's something I've shared here.

"No complaints. Some of the best times of my life were here. That's something me and Sean kind of share and have in common and that makes me more comfortable, having all those guys being in Buffalo."

McCoy would still be an Eagle if it weren't for Chip Kelly, and although he's finally moved on, he still has a home here and lots and lots of friends.

"It's always special getting back to Philly," he said. "This is my home and the fans and this organization were great to me since I got here at 20 years old, so it's always going to be special to me.

"I miss my house here, a lot of my family is from Harrisburg, which is an hour away, got a lot of Philly family, so it's always going to be like a second family for me, for sure.

"Started my career here, stay in contact with Duce (Staley), Sproles, we chat and text, (Brent) Celek all the time, a lot of friends here, a lot of good people that I know. This is a special place to me. Always."

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