© St. Petersburg Times, published December 15, 2002
It used to be the universal benchmark for running backs, but is gaining 1,000 yards in a season becoming common place?
This season, 11 running backs have reached the 1,000-yard mark. And at least 13 more have a reasonable chance of getting there by season's end. If they all make it, it would be the most in league history, surpassing the 23 in 2000.
In a 16-game season, a running back needs to average only 62.5 yards to reach 1,000. Redskins running back Stephen Davis (796 yards), for instance, has missed two games and had fewer than 15 carries in four other games, yet still should easily go over 1,000.
"A thousand is good, but it's not anything to get excited about now. Especially if you get 250, 300 carries a year," said Titans running backs coach Sherman Smith, a former running back with Seattle and San Diego. "Now, a thousand is a good place to start, but guys should really be looking for the 1,200- , 1,500-yard season.
"To me, it's how many yards a carry you're averaging. You can average 3.3, 3.5 yards a carry now and get a thousand. That's the number that tells the story."
TRIVIA QUESTION: Only three teams have shutouts this season. Name them.
STAT OF THE WEEK: In 29 games under coach Butch Davis, the Browns have had seven decided on the final play. The Browns are 2-5 in those games. STAT OF THE WEEK II: In his past 363 carries, Chiefs running back Priest Holmes has lost one fumble.
COOKING WITH HOT COLES: Cincinnati's Peter Warrick, a first-round draft pick, has been the biggest talent at receiver to come out of Florida State recently. But Laveranues Coles, a third-rounder, is having the best season, catching 73 passes for 1,022 yards.
Said Jets coach Herman Edwards: "If I'm voting right now for the MVP of the Jets, it's Laveranues Coles. Hands down."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "I don't think we deserve it right now. We've lost three games in a row, and any team that loses three games in a row doesn't deserve to be in the playoffs."
Broncos quarterback Brian Griese, talking about the team's playoff prospects.
STILL TALKING THE TALK: The Broncos are skidding, but apparently haven't lost confidence.
"Overall, we're the most talented team in the NFL. Bar none," defensive tackle Trevor Pryce said.
Hmm, so if they don't make the playoffs, will that make them the most underachieving team in the NFL, bar none?
RECORD WATCH: Texans quarterback David Carr is four sacks from tying the single-season league record of 72 by Randall Cunningham.
HERE WE GO AGAIN: Once again, the Texans are coming off a win, which can only mean one thing. Disappointment lurks.
After the Texans' three previous wins, they've loss their next game, mustering just three points in each. They've been outscored 81-9 in those games. TOLD YOU SO: The Eagles are having a lot of fun laughing at those who thought they'd fall apart after quarterback Donovan McNabb got hurt. Thanks to backup Koy Detmer and third-stringer A.J. Feeley, the Eagles haven't lost in the three games since McNabb went down, a streak that likely will continue today against the Redskins.
"A lot of people counted us out when Donovan went down," linebacker Levon Kirkland said. "But this team has proven we can win without him if we need to."
DID YOU KNOW?: Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, who leads the league in receptions (118) and yardage (1,394), was taken 19th in the 1996 draft, behind receivers Keyshawn Johnson, Terry Glenn and Eddie Kennison.
By the way, with six catches today, Harrison would break the league's single-season reception mark of 123 set by Herman Moore.
DID YOU KNOW II: Raiders receiver Tim Brown, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame, is one of the 921 voters for the Heisman.
So, who did Brown pick this season?
Miami running back Willis McGahee.
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT HIM?: The Rams have arguably the worst special teams in the league (32nd in kickoff coverage and 29th in punt coverage), yet their special-teams coach, Bobby April, is believed to be the highest paid at his position at $300,000 per season.
HE SAID IT: In a recent Sports Illustrated story on Harrison, Texans defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, a former Colts assistant coach, says Harrison is better than Jerry Rice was in his prime.
"He's much tougher to cover one-on-one than Rice was," Fangio said. "I'm not knocking Jerry Rice; I'm just telling you how good Marvin Harrison is."
TRIVIA ANSWER: The Chiefs, Falcons (twice) and Bucs.
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.