Breakout Player Recap: Running Backs

stevan-ridleyRunning backs are a common breakout pick every year. This is simply because most NFL backs are capable but are just lacking a chance to showcase their talents. The group I selected to breakout last year is proof of that. While some of them made the most of that opportunity, others due to injuries or the emergence of another player did not.

Donald Brown, Colts:  After a decent 2011 season, I figured Brown could put up some nice numbers with improved quarterback play. With the emergence of 6th round pick Vick Ballard and injury, I was wrong. Brown had 417 yards and a touchdown on the year before going down with an ankle injury that ended his season. For the year, Brown averaged less than four yards a carry but the Colts offensive line is not one of the leagues strongest. A former first round pick in 2009, Brown now looks like he might be expendable after the Colts signed Ahmad Bradshaw this offseason.

Hit or miss: Miss

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys: The rap on Murray coming out of Oklahoma was that he had a hard time staying healthy. Murray went on to miss six games due to a foot injury but put up solid numbers in the meantime. For the year, he had 663 yards rushing and four touchdowns along with a nice contribution in the passing game with 35 receptions. Unfortunately, Murray wasn’t able to show off his big play potential like he did his rookie season. He has shown enough these past two years where he should continue to be the Cowboys feature back for the foreseeable future.

Hit or miss: Push

Stevan Ridley, Patriots: In an offense that is mainly known for their aerial attack, Ridley put up the most impressive numbers a Patriots back has had since Corey Dillon. He ran for 1,263 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns. He could serve to improve as a receiver but backup Shane Vereen is much stronger in that area. With the Patriots losing so many weapons this offseason, don’t be surprised if Ridley saw an even bigger role in 2013.

Hit or miss: Hit

C.J. Spiller, Bills: Spiller built on the flashes he showed in 2011 to put up some ridiculous numbers in 2012. Despite only starting nine games, Spiller had over 1,700 total yards. This includes over 1,200 rushing where he averaged an insane six yards a carry and he also caught over 40 passes. With Fred Jackson getting older, Spiller will now enter his first year as the Bills feature back and should continue to showcase the talent that made him a top ten pick in 2010.

Hit or miss: Hit

Rashad Jennings, Jaguars: With Maurice Jones-Drew going down for a season ending injury, it looked like Jennings who had impressed in backup duty would get his time to shine. It ended up being a flop as he ran for less than three yards a carry before being benched for ineffectiveness. After that, he also suffered a shoulder injury to go along with a concussion later in the year. Jennings signed with the Raiders this offseason where he could be a nice complement to Darren McFadden.

Hit or miss: Miss

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