Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is not shy about touting his own abilities.
Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is not shy about touting his own abilities. (TONY GUTIERREZ -- The Associated Press)

PHILADELPHIA -- Every time we turn around, it seems Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is engaged in some sort of verbal sparring with a rival, be it Osi Umenyiora, Knowshon Moreno or, now, Adrian Peterson.

Monday, minutes after their organized team activities practice ended, McCoy followed Peterson's advice and figuratively stuck out his chest to back up his recent proclamation of being the best in the NFL at his position.

"If you look around, look at the tape, as a back I do everything," said McCoy, who is a graduate of Harrisburg's Bishop McDevitt High School. "I'm running, catching, blocking, third-down guy mixed in and out. There's not anything that you ask me that I won't do or that I can't do. So from that aspect, I said the last three years I don't think a back has been more productive."

Well, at least when compared to Peterson — who said in a recent interview that he didn't think McCoy actually meant what he said — he might have a point.

From a pure accomplishment standpoint, Peterson beats McCoy. He's been in the league two years longer, has been to six Pro Bowls, has been a first-team All-Pro three times and won an MVP award in 2012 after rushing for 2,097 yards, less than a year after tearing his ACL.

But while Peterson's resume looks much better on paper, McCoy's assertion that he's been the best in the league over the last three years could be backed up by the fact that he's been a much more productive receiver (154 catches for 1,227 yards, compared to 87 for 527 for Peterson in that span) and has done a much better job protecting the football, with just 10 fumbles in five seasons, compared to Peterson's 31 over seven.

Furthermore, McCoy has turned himself into a very effective blocker. That was a skill he definitely didn't have coming in. Now he's at a level just slightly below his predecessor, Brian Westbrook, when it comes to protecting the quarterback or doing anything other than running with the football.

Add everything up and … "The point that I'm trying to make is versatile backs, it's hard to cancel them out because there's not a package that they can't perform in," McCoy said. "If you cut down the runs, all right, what else can this back do? Back can catch, back can run routes, back can block. It's still vital."

Peterson had reacted to McCoy's claim by saying: "He didn't really mean it. If you watched his response, it was funny because when [ESPN's] Stephen A. [Smith] asked him the question, he kind of hesitated and he didn't believe it when he said it. I tell the youngsters, 'Say it with your chest, like you mean it.' "

That's exactly what McCoy did on Monday.

Even if he's correct, there's a deeper, more complex side issue to what should be a fun debate.

McCoy's salary spikes from $7.65 million this season to $9.75 million in 2015, when he will enter his seventh season in the league. For a running back, that's an eternity. McCoy already has beaten long odds to make it this far without a major, career-ending or career-threatening injury.

According to the NFLPA, running backs have the shortest average careers (2.57 years) of any position in the game.

And given the Eagles' recent decision to let go of totally healthy wide receiver DeSean Jackson at the peak of his career, it is valid to wonder if they might not soon go down the same road with McCoy, who entered the league one year after Jackson, regardless of how well he might do this season.

Jackson was released in March despite having career highs in receptions, yards and touchdown catches for an offense that set franchise records for points and total yards in 2013. But he was due to make $10.25 million this year, up considerably from $6.75 million the year before.

McCoy on Monday claimed not to be worried about becoming a similar casualty.

"I know it's a business," he said, "but … I'm not nervous at all. That's something we'll work on when the time comes. As long as I'm productive and doing the right things, I should be fine. I feel like I'm the best fit."

McCoy obviously would prefer not to jump off that bridge until he comes to it.

Until then, his message is to enjoy the ride, because that's what he'll be doing.

"I like the new attitude that we have here," the self-proclaimed finest back in the league said, knowing that nothing lasts forever in the NFL.