NFL Free Agency Speculation: 5 RBs Who Will Open the 2011 Season on the Bench

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IJune 15, 2011

NFL Free Agency Speculation: 5 RBs Who Will Open the 2011 Season on the Bench

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 21: Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants yells from the sideline against the Pittsburgh Steelers during their preseason game at New Meadowlands Stadium on August 21, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Playing running back in the NFL is one of the most difficult jobs in all of sports, as your ability is continually judged on a daily basis.

    Coaches and personnel executives consider the time spent on the field invaluable, with the endless opportunities to evaluate talent.

    Consecutive bad games could become your ticket to the bench. And when running backs struggle, coaches begin to question their attitude or if they have anything left in the tank to help make a contribution to the team.

    Let’s take a look at the five running backs who will open the 2011 season on the bench:

Brandon Jacobs

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 19:  Brandon Jacobs #27 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against  the Philadelphia Eagles during their game on December 19, 2010 at The New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Get
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    During this entire offseason, New York Giants RB Brandon Jacobs has reiterated that he’s not sure if the team will keep him after the lockout is lifted. Jacobs feels his salary will become a strain on the cap if the Giants re-sign fellow running back Ahmad Bradshaw.

    GM Jerry Reese laughed at this notion and fully expects him to be a significant part of the team’s offense next fall. To me, it sounds like an athlete that trying to stay relevant in the NFL.

    Clearly, Jacobs hasn’t run with same authority on the field since he signed a big-money contract after upsetting the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Felix Jones

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    HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 26:  Running back Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys rushes past defensive end Mario Williams #90 of Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    The talk in Dallas has the Cowboys releasing RB Marion Barber after the lockout is lifted and announcing that Tashard Choice will start ahead of Felix Jones at the tailback position next season.

    Head Coach Jason Garrett feels there is enough carries for both of them to coexist in his offense.

    Some have speculated that he might split the playing time evenly in the first half and go with the hot back exclusively in the second half. The success of the Cowboys running game will be critical for a winning season this year. 

Marshawn Lynch

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    SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 08:  Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks runs for a 67-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field on January 8, 2011 in Seattle, W
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch might start the season on bench, but it’s not because he isn’t a quality back anymore. No, Pete Carroll wants a two-back system, with each having a distinctly different running style from the other.

    Lynch is a more physical runner (remember him braking tackles on a run against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs) than projected starter Justin Forsett, who is a smoother, slicker runner. His moves on the open field make defenders miss him.

    For the better part of last season, the Seahawks run-blocking scheme wasn’t very good, but exiled Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable should instill some grit to the rushing game this year.

Knowshon Moreno

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 12:  Runningback Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos runs with the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defe
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The jury is still out on Denver Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno on whether he is a decent back or truly a NFL Draft bust.

    There have been flashes of brilliance, but Moreno needs to become a more consistent with his play. In order to get him into the flow of the offense, head coach John Fox must get Moreno a certain amount of carries in a game.

    Speculation in Denver is that management might make a run at free agent RB DeAngelo Williams, who played for Fox in Carolina. The feeling is acquiring someone who has a familiarity with the type of offense that Fox wants to implement in Denver will allow the team to get off to a good start next season. 

Beanie Wells

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 05:  Runningback Beanie Wells #26 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against Ronald Bartell #24 of the St. Louis Rams during the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Arizona media has reported that RB Beanie Wells is looking in great shape during the Cardinals players-organized workouts.

    Is this a good sign or is it too little, too late?

    He will be in a battle for the starting running back position against second-round draft choice Ryan Williams, as the coaching staff wasn’t please with overall play from last years’ running game. Wells could play a prominent role in their success, but he first must stay healthy in order to become a factor on the field.