There is no career in the NFL that is shorter than that of a running back. They take more punishment in a season then some players see in their whole career.
With the amount of punishment running backs take on a game to game basis, it’s difficult to make it through a whole season, so leading the league in touchdowns is not only an example of talent, but an example of all around toughness and tenacity.
2010 showed several big name backs continue their dominance as well as several others jump into that upper echelon of runners. They helped their team move down the field and, most importantly, score touchdowns.
While there are a lot of running backs that will bring their team some much needed scoring, these seven will be the most effective.
While Michael Turner is getting to the point in his career that many running backs begin to slow down, 2010 proved Turner was not about to call it quits anytime soon.
Turner started every game in 2010, putting together a very good season. While he may not have matched the 17 touchdowns he scored in 2008, 12 is nothing to sneeze at.
The Falcons are almost exactly the same team on offense with the addition of one key factor: Jacquizz Rodgers.
With the Falcons drafting Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta got another running back who will be able to carry a bit of the workload, taking some of the pressure off of Turner. This will keep Turner fresh down the stretch, allowing him to make more big plays for the Falcons, and big plays often lead to touchdowns.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis got his first shot in 2010 and did well, rushing for over 1,000 yards and racking up 13 touchdowns, enough to tie him for second in the league. His breakout season was exactly what Patriots fans had been hoping for, complementing the Patriot’s passing attack.
Green-Ellis has improved all three seasons in the NFL thus far and shows no signs of stopping now. With Danny Woodhead taking carries as well, the pressure on Green-Ellis will be lessened, helping to keep him fresh.
Green-Ellis will continue to provide the rushing attack the Patriots need and is sure to rack up touchdowns.
The last two seasons have set Rashard Mendenhall up as a rushing threat to be reckoned with. After a slow rookie season, Mendenhall has rushed for over 1,000 yards the last two seasons.
Mendenhall scored 13 touchdowns last season; six more than the previous season. Only 23, Mendenhall is still improving. He is a sturdy player who has not missed a game in two full seasons, so he is destined to get his shots in 2011.
If Mendenhall continues on the track he is on, there is a good chance that he will rank right up towards the top of the league again in 2011. Ben Roethlisberger and the passing attack will make it more difficult for Mendenhall to lead the league, but if he makes the most out of his opportunities, he could do it.
At the beginning of 2010, no one expected much from Peyton Hillis. By the end of the season, he had become a star, earning the cover of the next Madden game.
After only 81 carries over two seasons in Denver, Hillis finally got his shot with Cleveland in week three after injuries sidelined Jerome Harrison and James Davis. Hillis took advantage of the situation, rushing for 1,177 yards and scoring 11 times throughout the 2010 campaign.
2011 will start with Hillis as the starter, a position he has not been in during his NFL career. Hillis should end the season with double digit touchdowns again, putting him towards the top of the league.
When anyone thinks of the best running backs of the last few years, Chris Johnson has to be mentioned.
Johnson remained healthy and played every game in 2010. While his production did not match his amazing 2,000 yard performance in 2009, he was still very productive, finishing with 1,364 yards and 11 touchdowns.
2011 will be no different. With rookie quarterback Jake Locker likely to take the reins of the Titans, the Tennessee coaching staff will be looking for Johnson to help keep the pressure off of Locker which could mean a lot of carries.
If Johnson continues to play the way he has, and all signs point to his continued success, you can count on Johnson ranking towards the top of the NFL in touchdowns.
Adrian Peterson has already put together a resume that will draw hall of fame consideration in only four NFL seasons. One of the fastest backs to reach 5,000 yards in his career, it seemed like Peterson could not get any better.
Unfortunately for the rest of the league, he has. 2010 saw Peterson fumble once all season, significantly better than his previous years. While his number of touchdowns dropped from 18 in 2009 to 12 in 2010, Peterson has remained productive.
With three young quarterbacks and a rookie likely starting, the Vikings will continue to rely on Peterson. Barring an injury, there is no way he has less than 10 touchdowns when the season ends.
One of the biggest surprises of 2010 had to have been Arian Foster. Foster was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2009. Foster took over as the starting running back in 2010, leading the lead with 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Texans have not changed too much on the offense, meaning the situation seems to be the same for Foster again this season. There is no reason to think that he will not have the same level of success in 2011.