MNF Review: Downsizing at running back
October, 1, 2013
By Steve Muench | ESPN Insider
Every team would love a back with Bo Jackson's legendary size-speed combination, but backs such as Bo are rare. Teams willing to sacrifice size are having success finding help at the position. The role 5-foot-6, 190-pound RB Darren Sproles played in New Orleans' lopsided win over a Miami club that hadn't lost a game until Monday night is an excellent example.
Sproles torched the Dolphins, catching seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. His burst stood out both before and after the catch. He's an explosive route-runner who separated from Miami's linebackers and defensive backs one-on-one, and his ability to drop the hammer and accelerate away from pursuit showed up once he got the ball in space.
Miami's respect for how dangerous he is after the catch may have cost them when he picked up 48 yards on flat-and-up route on the Saints' first drive of the game. SS Reshad Jones jumped the flat route in an effort to limit Sproles' run after the catch -- and possibly to pick off the pass -- and had no chance to recover when Sproles turned upfield. Additionally, Sproles showed off his excellent ball skills on his touchdown catch, adjusting to a pass thrown behind him and catching the ball with his hands away from his frame.