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Monday, September 5, 2011
49ers' J. Smith and heirs to Manning streak

By Mike Sando

With Peyton Manning's regular-season starting streak in question, I revisited the list of active leaders to see which NFC West players might be gaining.

There is one.

The San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith, the NFL's active ironman among defensive linemen with 155 starts in a row, would have to remain in the lineup continuously through the sixth game of the 2014 season to surpass Manning's 208-game streak.

Smith, 31, would be turning 35 at about the time he reached 209 starts.

The chart shows current starting streaks of at least 100 games, according to the NFL. Alan Faneca is retiring, so he'll come off the list. Atlanta Falcons center Todd McClure, tied with Faneca on the list, will miss the regular-season opener after having knee surgery.

Players need toughness, luck, consistency and talent to maintain such streaks in such a physically demanding sport. The position they play also matters.

The longest active starting streak for running backs stands at only 48 games, with the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte atop the list. The Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson is next at 32 games, with the St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson third at only 17 regular-season starts in a row. Only three other running backs have started more than 12 games in a row.

Update: The NFL's internal statistics engine listed Ronde Barber with 179 consecutive regular-season starts. The Bucs' figure is 183. Game logs available on NFL.com confirm 183. I updated the chart to 183.