By Peter Gleason
All eyes will be on DeMarco Murray this Sunday when the Eagles take on Indy in their first preseason game.
Many will be watching hoping that the power back will fail because he has replaced their fave, Shady McCoy, in the Birds’ backfield.
But many more have already bought in to what Murray, the defending NFL rushing leader, could mean to the team’s 2015 prospects.
”I definitely feel like an Eagle and I’m happy to be here,” Murray told the AP. ”It’s a great group of guys.”
Murray replaces two-time All-Pro McCoy, who was traded to Buffalo. McCoy set a franchise record for yards rushing in 2013 in Chip Kelly’s first season as coach. But his running style was too much side-to-side for Kelly’s preference. Murray is a straight-ahead runner more suited for this up-tempo offense.
”He’s a perfect fit,” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. ”He does exactly what we want to do, full-steam downhill.”
Murray helped the Cowboys take the NFC East title away from the Eagles last season. He led the NFL with 1,845 yards rushing, breaking Emmitt Smith’s franchise record. He also set an NFL record with eight straight 100-yard games to open the season, breaking Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s record.
Yet he still has critics.
Joseph Randle, his backup in Dallas, said Murray would’ve had more yards if he didn’t leave ”meat on the bone.” Some say Murray was a product of an excellent offensive line. Others wonder how much drop-off he’ll have after getting 497 touches.
”If you’re doing something good, there’s always going to be critics,” Murray said. ”I don’t look at it as hatred or someone saying anything bad. I just really don’t pay attention to it whether it’s good or negative. I just work hard and try to improve as much as I can. ”You’ve got to move on with your life and not worry about things you can’t control.”
Murray is reunited in town with Sam Bradford, his former roommate at Oklahoma. Bradford openly recruited Murray right after the Eagles acquired him from St. Louis.
It didn’t take much convincing. Murray is a big fan of Kelly.
”He’s a very smart coach and he finds way to get guys the ball,” Murray said. ”We have so many playmakers on this team and everybody has to be on the same page. He knows how to get guys the ball in space and puts us in great position.”
Murray doesn’t have to be a one-man show in Philly. The Eagles also added Ryan Mathews, a former Pro Bowl rusher in San Diego. And, they have the versatile Darren Sproles.