Post by Bornthrilla on Oct 27, 2004 0:00:39 GMT -5
BARLOW READY TO RUN; HICKS TO ADD ENERGY
By Daniel Brown
Kevan Barlow had a Sunday off from playing football, so he spent the day watching it instead. The 49ers running back tuned in for the duel between his ex-teammates, Jeff Garcia (``He played his little tail off'') and Terrell Owens (``Exciting and funny as usual'').
Not long after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Cleveland Browns, Barlow got a call from the Browns' Garcia. Then he got one from Owens. ``I think T.O. was just calling so I could massage his ego a little bit,'' Barlow said.
Barlow laughed. The 49ers' bye week apparently soothed his spirit almost as much as it eased the pain in his sprained left shoulder. Barlow was among the banged-up players who returned to practice Monday claiming rejuvenated health and a refreshed attitude.
Getting Barlow and the running game going is one of the 49ers' top priorities as they prepare for what they are calling their 10-game season. During the team's 1-5 start, Barlow surpassed 100 yards only once. He had three games with fewer than 50 yards.
In search of a spark, the 49ers will give Barlow a new running mate Sunday. The team plans to activate Maurice Hicks from the practice squad and use the shifty running back as a change of pace against the Chicago Bears, Barlow said.
Barlow, in his first season as a full-time starter, is pleased to have someone share the load and does not interpret Hicks' promotion as a threat.
``I know I'm a beast,'' he said. ``I know what I can do. I know I'm tight. I know I'm good.''
Going into play Monday, Barlow's 3.7 yards per rush was the lowest of the top-10 rushers in the NFC. The New York Giants' Tiki Barber had the best average, 5.5 yards.
One of the things holding Barlow back is the sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. Though a sizable load at 6-foot-1, 238 pounds, he has yet to burst over defenders the way he did at times last year.
Barlow has broken just two tackles in 99 carries, according to Stats, Inc., whose researchers review game film. Through Week 6, Barlow ranked 42nd in the NFL in broken tackles, lagging far behind leaders such as Denver's Reuben Droughns (17 broken tackles in 78 carries), Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson (17 in 108), Jacksonville's Fred Taylor (16 in 101) and Pittsburgh's Duce Staley (14 in 126).
And although the week off helped Barlow's recovery a little, it was hardly enough time to cure the ailing shoulder.
``It's not 100 percent and it's not going to be 100 percent all year,'' he said. ``I just have to deal with it.''
With his bulldozing abilities hindered, Barlow has just eight rushes of 10 yards or more. Maybe Hicks can help shake things loose. He showed flashes of potential during the preseason but lost his roster fight to backup running backs Jamal Robertson and Terry Jackson. It is unclear how Coach Dennis Erickson will juggle the roster and the playing time.
Hicks, though, looks certain to make his debut, culminating his long road to the NFL. He was the all-time leading rusher at North Carolina A&T with 2,812 yards in just two seasons, including a 437-yard game against Morgan State in 2001.
His only previous pro experience was for the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe.
``This is something I've been waiting for my whole life,'' Hicks said.
Though an elusive runner and a breakaway threat, Hicks said his focus will be on blocking and picking up blitzes. No matter the role, Barlow is happy to have him.
``A starter wants to be able to come off the field feeling confident that the guy in there is going to do the job,'' he said. ``You want to be able to relax and take a breath or two.''
And maybe he'll play well enough against the Bears to get a call next week from his friend Garcia. The Browns have a bye.
Post by SixtiesAggie on Nov 1, 2004 11:28:02 GMT -5
I didn't see him on the field. They need to play anybody that can carry a football. They are terrible. Carpenter played the whole game. He missed an interception and was injured on the play, but came back into the game.
Mitchell is a monster. With all the playing time he gets as a starter will just make him better.