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Why do so many running backs seem to have weight issues?

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

On the eve of free agency, reports have emerged that one of the biggest name running backs set to hit the market has become, well, bigger.

It’s obviously posturing season, so maybe former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell actually tipped the scales at 260 at some point recent months, or perhaps it’s a team planting rumors in order to attempt to drive his value down. Regardless of whether Bell actually ballooned up during his time off or not, he is certainly not the first free agent running back in recent seasons to have battled the scale.

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks are obviously familiar with the name in that last tweet, as Eddie Lacy’s bloated contract and weight incentives were the sources of much frustration and letdown in 2017. That said, Lacy is far from the only Hawks running back to have had issues with their weight in recent seasons.

Just this past year, there were rumors that Rashaad Penny reported to training camp having gained a significant amount of weight between the draft and camp, and back in 2016 it was fifth round pick Alex Collins who reportedly showed up for camp overweight and out of shape, only then to show up for 2017 trimmed down and in much better shape. Unfortunately for Collins, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks seem to have a preference for bigger running backs, and so when he reported to camp at 204 that year, it likely helped usher in the end of his time with Seattle and helped contribute to him starting the 2017 season on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. Of course, his fumble issues didn’t help either.

In any case, this was all pushed into my mind by another soon to be free agent running back who tweeted about a weakness that I know I suffer from, and I’m sure many fans can relate.

Now, I’m in no way saying that Mike Davis is having any kind of weight issues,as I’d guess that Davis is taking care of himself and staying in shape for his upcoming free agency visits and physicals. Thus, while he may complain about not being able to stop eating wings, he’s probably also working out to burn off those wings.

That does lead to the question, however, regarding why so many more running backs seem to battle weight issues compared to other positions. I would guess that it’s no more than a result of the fact that it’s a position where their performance is far more likely to be impacted by a weight gain, while also being a position where they are not running as many sprints, such as a wide receiver or a defensive back would. Along the same lines, it’s not like a ten or twenty pound weight gain would be something that would be as noticeable on an offensive or defensive lineman.

Of course, this is not to try to put forth the position that other positions can’t battle weight issues as they most certainly can.

However, it simply seems that as fans we hear about running backs battling this issue more often than other positions, or perhaps it’s simply a matter of the fact that Seahawks fans have now dealt with this issue at the running back position in each of the last three seasons. Just something to keep in mind for July when preseason rolls around and we start seeing stories about Penny and Bell and other running backs around the league reporting to camp in the best shape of their lives.