Rushing for 1,000 yards in an NFL season might seem like no big deal -- long-time veterans Frank Gore and LeGarrette Blount were among those to achieve the mark last season -- but it’s recently become tough for veteran players to join the club for the first time. Of the 12 running backs who crossed the 1,000-yard threshold last season, seven had done it previously (including Gore and Blount). Two more (Ezekiel Elliott, Jordan Howard) passed the mark as rookies in 2016 and two others (David Johnson, Jay Ajayi) were in Year 2 in 2016. That left Saints veteran Mark Ingram as the only longtime vet to achieve the mark for the first time -- the 2011 first-round pick finally broke through in his sixth season.
We saw the same trend in previous seasons. In 2015, sixth-year RB Chris Ivory, then of the New York Jets, managed to stay healthy long enough to rush for 1,070 yards, good for fifth in the NFL. In 2014, Justin Forsett was the surprise veteran to break through for the first time (at age 29), and Lamar Miller also accomplished the feat that year, in his third season.
This history got me wondering whether there was any room for current veteran running backs -- third season or beyond -- to really emerge in 2017.