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Ranking the RB movement by Don Banks (SI)


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Ranking the RBs

How six big-time backs will fare in new homes

by Don Banks

New running backs are all the rage in the NFL this month. Here's how I rank the half-dozen moves that have landed some familiar faces in new places for the upcoming season:

1. Thomas Jones, Jets -- I still can't quite fathom how the Jets got themselves a proven 1,200-yard rusher -- and a guy who runs hard at all times -- at the cost of just swapping places in the second round with Chicago? Jones has gained just under 3,500 yards rushing in his past three seasons, with 22 touchdowns, 118 receptions and just four lost fumbles. He's only 28, very durable, and despite being a seven-year veteran, he doesn't have a ton of wear and tear on him. He didn't even have so much as a 200-rush season until his fifth year in the league, his first in Chicago.

2. Travis Henry, Broncos -- Getting to line up in the Denver backfield usually adds a few hundred yards rushing to any running back's season total. With 1,211 yards on just 270 carries (for a career-best 4.5-yard average) for Tennessee last season, Henry's renaissance made everyone remember what an offensive threat he was in Buffalo in 2002 and 2003, when he ran for nearly 2,800 yards. His contract situation has at times had had too much effect on his production, but if his head is right, there's no reason to think he won't roll to some big numbers in Denver.

3. Willis McGahee, Ravens -- Not all that long ago, Buffalo had both Henry and McGahee and had to make a decision about which one to keep and which one to let go. Now they're both out of the picture in Western New York, and playing for two of the Bills' AFC rivals. I'm not surprised the Bills gave up on McGahee, because between his contract unhappiness and his verbal salvos fired at the city of Buffalo, his act had grown stale. McGahee has only averaged as much as 4.0 yards per carry once, and that was in his breakout season of 2004. He's an upgrade for the Ravens without a doubt, but he's far from being the NFL's best running back, as he once dubbed himself.

4. Tatum Bell, Lions -- The Broncos got tired of Bell's fumbling, and it has been a problem the past two seasons (nine fumbles, six lost). But I'm higher on the Lions' acquisition of Bell than some, because he has averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 481 attempts in his three-year career, and that's nothing to sneeze at. With Detroit's Kevin Jones a question mark in the first half of 2007, Bell could be in great position to take the starting job and run with it. And remember, the last time Detroit had itself a former Oklahoma State running back, things worked out pretty well for both the Lions and that Barry Sanders guy.

5. Ahman Green, Texans -- What are the odds that Green can rate as a great acquisition twice in the same career -- seven years apart? When the Packers got him from Seattle in 2000, it was a steal. But the only way history is going to repeat itself this time around is by flipping the scenario to note that Green did the pilfering this time, somehow squeezing $3 million more out of the Texans this season ($8 million) than he had been offered to stay in Green Bay. Green is running again in the Mike Sherman offense that he had so much success in with the Packers, but he's at that magic age of 30 for running backs, and last had a truly dominant season in 2003. As Texans fans will quickly learn, he's no Reggie Bush.

6. Jamal Lewis, Browns -- Averaging more than 300 carries per year in his first six NFL seasons (not counting 2001 when he missed the entire schedule) has taken an obvious toll on Lewis' game. He has averaged 3.4 and 3.6 yards per attempt the past two seasons, when he needed 583 combined carries just to barely crack 2,000 yards (2,038). For comparison sake, he gained 2,066 yards in his career year of 2003, on 387 rushes (5.3 average). He won't even be 28 until late August, but he's an old 27, and it's hard to see how his production will improve in Cleveland, whose offensive line hasn't exactly been mistaken for the great wall of China of late. The Ravens knew what they were doing in letting Lewis reach the free-agent market.

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1. Thomas Jones, Jets -- I still can't quite fathom how the Jets got themselves a proven 1,200-yard rusher -- and a guy who runs hard at all times -- at the cost of just swapping places in the second round with Chicago? Jones has gained just under 3,500 yards rushing in his past three seasons, with 22 touchdowns, 118 receptions and just four lost fumbles. He's only 28, very durable, and despite being a seven-year veteran, he doesn't have a ton of wear and tear on him. He didn't even have so much as a 200-rush season until his fifth year in the league, his first in Chicago.

...gigity gigity :cheers:

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