- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Only two NFC South running backs were on the field for more than 50 percent of their team’s offensive plays.
Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart led the division at 55.2 percent. Stewart was on the field for 577 of Carolina’s 1,046 offensive plays. Atlanta’s Michael Turner took part in 52.2 percent of his offense’s plays. Turner was on the field for 588 of 1,127 snaps.
Neither player was in the top 10 among the league’s running backs. Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy led the league as he played on 81.1 percent of his team’s snaps.
There were a few other items of interest when it came to playing time for NFC South running backs. While Stewart led the division, his teammate, DeAngelo Williams, was third in the NFC South at 42.73 percent, just ahead of New Orleans’ Darren Sproles 42.71 percent.
Tampa Bay was the only team without a single running back to play at least 40 percent of his team’s snaps. Starter LeGarrette Blount participated in 38.4 of the Bucs’ snaps, which was a problem. The Bucs were hesitant to use Blount as a pass blocker or receiver, so their offense was predictable because Tampa Bay generally was running when Blount was on the field.
Blount’s backup, Kregg Lumpkin, was on the field for 35.9 percent of Tampa Bay’s snaps. Earnest Graham also split time at fullback and tailback for the Bucs before suffering a season-ending injury. Graham took part in 18.8 percent of Tampa Bay's offensive plays.
Here’s the rundown on the percentage of plays the rest of the NFC South running backs took part in:
Pierre Thomas, Saints, 33.8.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons, 28.
Jason Snelling, Falcons, 27.9.
Mark Ingram, Saints, 18.6.
Chris Ivory, Saints, 10.4.
Mossis Madu, Buccaneers, 5.9.
Josh Vaughn, Panthers, 1.1.
Mike Goodson, Panthers, 0.4.
Antone Smith, Falcons 0.2