Data Points: Big rushing totals tougher to produce

Texans running back Arian Foster, last season’s NFL rushing champion, recently revealed that he played the entire 2010 campaign with a torn meniscus in his knee. The Pro Bowler ran for 1,616 yards and also led the league in total yards from scrimmage (2,220) and total touchdowns (18).

But it’s his rushing total that is the focus here. Foster was the only runner in the league to reach the 1,600-yard mark last season, a feat that is seemingly becoming rarer these days with the emphasis on the passing game as well as teams using multiple running backs to carry the load. In ‘09, Titans RB Chris Johnson became just the sixth player to surpass the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season and set a new record for yards from scrimmage with 2,509. But like Foster, Johnson was the only back in the league to reach the 1,600-yard mark that year.

In ’08, both the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson (1,760) and Falcons’ Michael Turner (1,699) hit the mark, while no runner managed that total in 2007. And this is all interesting to note because at least three running backs went over 1,600 yards rushing in each season from 2002-06.

What does it all mean? With offenses throwing the ball more than ever, it’s becoming rare for running backs to have monster seasons like their counterparts posted in the past.

Russell S. Baxter

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