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Sprint draw has proven successful for Eagles

| Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
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PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Running back LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs against the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field on September 30, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

Even though the Philadelphia Eagles tend to get away from running the ball from time to time, they do have one of the better ground games in the league when it's clicking with running back LeSean McCoy.

And ever since veteran offensive line coach Howard Mudd came over from Indianapolis two years ago, the Eagles' favorite, and most successful run play, has been the sprint draw. It helped McCoy rush for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns during his breakout season a year ago.

It has become the Eagles' signature run play over the past two years.

The play is designed to take advantage of pass-rushing ends or outside linebackers, create options for McCoy and be able to call play-action passes off the same look.

The Eagles set up in an 11 personnel, with tight end Brent Celek lined up to the left with DeSean Jackson split out wide, Jason Avant in the slot to the right and Jeremy Maclin out wide.

The key to the play is for the offensive line to sell pass protection.

Tackles Demetress Bell and Todd Herremans pass set and allow either the defensive end or outside linebacker to come upfield, letting the defenders' aggressiveness take them out of the play.

Right guard Danny Watkins blocks down on the nose tackle, allowing center Dallas Reynolds to pull and right tackle Herremans to block the first person he sees — typically a flowing inside linebacker.

At the snap, McCoy takes a couple false steps forward to hold the inside linebackers while quarterback Michael Vick spins to the left and sprints to McCoy 5 yards deep in the backfield.

The play allows a tailback to get the ball deep in the backfield to use his vision and cut based off the line's blocks.

The play typically is called during obvious pass situations.

The sprint draw takes advantage of a strong, athletic offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage.

The Eagles ran the play four times in the season opener against the Browns but haven't gone back to it much since.

A lot of that has to do with the Eagles' line being banged up.

Center Jason Kelce tore his ACL in Week 2 against the Ravens, and perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters tore his Achilles during the summer.

The Eagles have run the play only once since Kelce's injury — a no gain on a third-and-20 against Arizona two weeks ago.

McCoy assured that the play hasn't been removed from the playbook because of injuries to the offensive line and could be used Sunday to help slow the Steelers' pass rush.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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