NFL star runner signs a brand new contract

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NFL star runner signs a brand new contract

From Comcast SportsNet
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- LeSean McCoy ran his way onto the short list of the best running backs in the NFL. He can now stamp his name among the highest paid. McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a five-year contract extension that runs through 2017. The deal is for a reported 45 million, with 20.765 million guaranteed. McCoy set franchise records in 2011 with 17 touchdowns rushing, and 20 total scores, while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. He also led the NFL with 102 first downs and 48 runs of 10-plus yards, while finishing as the league's fourth-leading rusher with 1,309 yards. "I love this team, and I'm kind of a hometown kid from Harrisburg which is like an hour and a half away," McCoy said Thursday night. "Nothing could be better than being here for the long term. Once you kind of realize the feeling of wanting to be here for the long term, we contacted the team and it was a mutual feeling. So, it kicked off from there." In 2010, McCoy ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,672 yards from scrimmage while leading all running backs with a career-high 78 catches. Philadelphia had a disappointing 4-8 start last season, before rallying with four straight wins to end the year. The Eagles did not make the playoffs. Usually called by childhood nickname, Shady, McCoy was Philadelphia's 2009 second-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh. He has played in 46 games, with 32 starts, and has registered 4,241 yards from scrimmage. "He does it all, so this isn't a one-dimensional running back," coach Andy Reid said. "This is a running back that can not only carry the football for you but can catch the football as well as the wide receivers and he can block and loves playing the game. That brings great energy to this football team." He had one year left on his original four-year rookie contract. The Eagles already this offseason signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a five-year contract that runs through 2016 and acquired two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans. They signed defensive end Trent Cole to a four-year extension through 2017 and tackle Todd Herremans to a three-year extension through 2016. The Eagles believe they have the pieces in place to again become contenders in the NFC. McCoy doesn't turn 24 until July, giving the Eagles hope they can get a full five years of use out of McCoy, even at a rugged position like running back. "It's exciting because we are trying to build for the long term," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "We're trying to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia and we're going to do whatever we can to do that, but on the same token, we're going to try and keep building it and sustain some success. Keeping him here is a big piece of that." McCoy now his name up there with Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams as one of the highest-paid running backs. Minnesota's Peterson signed a 100 million, seven-year contract before last season. Johnson signed a 53.5 million contract extension worth 30 million guaranteed with Tennessee before last season. "I'm just honored to be in the range financially with those guys," McCoy said. McCoy ran for 2,731 yards in his two seasons, and posted 38 total touchdowns at Pitt.

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him.