St. Louis Rams
RB Steven Jackson ran hard in the first half against Buffalo Sunday, gaining 24 yards on six attempts. However, in the Rams' futile second half, Jackson got the ball just once for five yards.
RB Marshall Faulk had the worst day of his career Sunday, gaining just 6 yards on 13 attempts against the Bills. His 19 total yards from scrimmage left him with 948 for the season.
RB Ladell Betts led Washington in receiving (six catches for 39 yards) last weekend, a sign of how he is being integrated into Joe Gibbs' offense and how the unit, frankly, isn't very good.
RB Clinton Portis is coming off his worst performance of the season, 17 carries for 37 yards at Philadelphia. Portis didn't get a lot of running room Sunday but also didn't accelerate past many tacklers.
RB Thomas Jones and his younger brother, Cowboys running back Julius, get to spend Thanksgiving together at Texas Stadium in front of a national-TV audience. "In my family, we're definitely excited," said the Bears' leading rusher. "We've been looking forward to this game all year. Me and my brother are very close. We have an opportunity to both be starting running backs in this game, and that's definitely a blessing for us, so we're happy." Though they're three years apart, Thomas and Julius grew up playing football with each other almost non-stop. Thursday's game could hinge on whoever plays better.
RB Julius Jones surprised Cowboys fans -- and silenced doubters -- by rushing 30 times for 81 yards in his first career start Sunday in a 30-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He will hold onto the starting job Thursday against the Chicago Bears, provided he's in sound condition after taking on such a heavy load against the Ravens. "I think he will (start) if he's feeling pretty good," head coach Bill Parcells said. "He had a pretty good load yesterday. I told him I thought he did a good job competing and fighting, and I never got the sense that he was looking to get out of the game or anything. I really was pleased with him about that."
RB Eddie George said he's not surprised that the Cowboys have decided to make rookie Julius Jones the starter full-time. "After last week, the hand writing was on the wall," George said. George, who never felt as if he got a chance to do what he does best, accepts the move because he is a professional. "It's never easy to go from a starter to a backup," George said. "It's definitely difficult. It's a new situation for me, not starting. But I am willing to do whatever is best for the team. I have to accept it." George said he will help Jones any way he can.
RB Josh Scobey will back up Emmitt Smith while Troy Hambrick is out with an foot injury. Scobey is fast, but he doesn't have great instincts or agility.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB Earnest Graham rushed for a career-high 27 yards on four carries in the fourth quarter of the Bucs' 35-3 win over the 49ers. With the release of RB Jamel White, Graham is the backup to starter Michael Pittman.
RB Michael Pittman has accounted for six of the Bucs' seven rushing touchdowns in the last five games. The Bucs did not rush for a TD in the first five games of 2004.
RB Antowain Smith played very well as the fill in for Chris Brown in Jacksonville, and if Chris Brown is not ready to come back from turf toe the Titans would feel fine about starting Smith in Houston.
RB Onterrio Smith hasn't shown the ability to make a play with a long run the last two weeks. He has 48 yards on 13 carries the last two weeks.
RB Moe Williams, 33, is back. After being slowed by multiple leg injuries from Day 1 of training camp until about two weeks ago, Williams played a vital role in the win over the Lions. He converted two third downs with runs and also caught a 14-yard pass on third-and-12 from the Detroit 15 on the game-winning drive.
RB Michael Bennett has been unable to break off a long run. There was one play late in Sunday's game against Detroit in which Bennett had a crease to break a long run but hesitated. Bennett is averaging only 3.3 yards on 27 carries this season.
RB Greg Jones is supposed to be an effective third down runner but gained just two yards in two carries.
RB Fred Taylor went over 100 yard mark for the second straight game as he gained 103 yards in 21 carries against Tennessee.
RB Kenny Watson, a valuable third-down back and blocker, is slowed this week by a bruised calf but is expected to play against Cleveland.
RB Rudi Johnson is positioning himself as an important player on the free agent market come March. He is proving durable with 222 carries and 847 yards in 10 games. He will be more affordable as a UFA than Seattle UFA Shaun Alexander.
RB Justin Fargas did not return to carry the ball as expected in his first active appearance in a month. His turf toe is OK but circumstances kept him from getting into the backfield mix.
RB Tyrone Wheatley has averaged 3.4 yards a carry since returning from his shoulder injury. When he was injured he was averaging 4.1.
RB Brian Westbrook's fractured rib appears to have sufficiently healed. He was his old self Sunday against Washington, accelerating through holes and running away from coverage.
New Orleans Saints
RB Aaron Stecker played primarily on special teams Sunday, but he did catch one pass for 3 yards.
RB Deuce McAllister, like QB Aaron Brooks, had a bittersweet day against the Broncos. He established career highs in catches (11) and receiving yards (87), but that was a byproduct of the Saints falling behind 20-0 in the first quarter. The downside of that was they had to abandon the running game, and he finished with only 42 yards on 13 carries.
RB Brandon Bennett got had one carry for 11 yards on Sunday. That came early in the game, and Bennett spent most of the day on the sidelines. Don't expect him to be a big factor against Tampa Bay.
RB Jerome Bettis could return to his backup role Sunday if Duce Staley is ready to go, but his play over the past three weeks warranted more playing time with Staley.
San Diego Chargers
RB Jesse Chatman rode the pine like the old days with LaDainian Tomlinson's groin being so improved. Chatman did get in for a series in the fourth quarter, but his number wasn't called.
RB Tatum Bell impressed the coaches with his special teams play on Sunday against New Orleans, but he's still behind Garrison Hearst on the depth chart at running back and that might not change soon because he won't have many chances to get much-needed game experience.
RB Reuben Droughns has three of the top 12 single-game rushing performances in the NFL this season. He needs 156 yards to become the fifth different running back to run for 1,000 yards under coach Mike Shanahan since 1995.
RB William Green still has an outside chance for a 1,000-yard season. He needs to gain 527 yards over the last six games to do it. He gained 115 yards against the Bengals Oct. 17.
RB Chester Taylor should assume the starting job for the next couple of weeks if Jamal Lewis is out with a sprained right ankle.
RB Shaun Alexander still leads the NFL in rushing despite getting "only" 96 yards against the Dolphins, his lowest single-game output in a month. Alexander has 1,151 yards in 10 games, leaving him within 24 yards of his 16-game total from 2002. Alexander is averaging a career-best 5.1 yards a carry even though his longest run is a modest 44 yards. Alexander is running more decisively and more confidently now that he's getting more carries per game.
New York Jets
RB LaMont Jordan will probably get a few more carries against Arizona this week, especially of the Jets take a big lead late. Curtis Martin is nursing a bruised right knee so the Jets will take it easy on him if they can.
RB Travis Minor may make his second start of the season Sunday at San Francisco. Minor would be replacing Sammy Morris, who suffered a rib injury in last Sunday's 24-17 loss to Seattle.
RB Sammy Morris wasn't having a great outing before being sidelined with a rib injury in last Sunday's 24-17 loss to Seattle. Morris rushed seven times for 16 yards, but 13 of those came on one carry.
San Francisco 49ers
RB Maurice Hicks was the 49ers' leading rusher on Sunday, with 36 yards on seven carries in a backup role to Kevan Barlow. However, he was twice stopped at the goal line in the final seconds of the game.
RB Kevan Barlow has been a victim of the poor play from the offensive line. Barlow rushed for just 30 yards on 14 carries against the Buccaneers. After averaging 5.1 yards a carry last season, he has a 3.3-yard average this season with just 561 yards on 170 rushes.
RB Travis Henry had two carries against the Rams. His role as 1-A starter isn't producing much work and could affect his value in a trade this off-season.
RB Willis McGahee has gained at least 100 rushing yards in four of five NFL starts and is the only first-year Bill with four 100-yard rushing performances in a season, breaking the record of three held by Joe Cribbs and Greg Bell.
New York Giants
RB Tiki Barber said he was "encouraged" by how QB Eli Manning improved in the second half. "I think we've got a good one," he said. Barber has gained 1,035 yards in 10 games, his fourth 1,000-plus season.
Kansas City Chiefs
RB Derrick Blaylock, after a 186-yard game against New Orleans in his first start for the injured Priest Holmes, was held to 14 first-half yards against New England. He was better in the fourth quarter and finished with 19-58 rushing with 5-33 receiving, but the Patriots held him well in check.
New England Patriots
RB Corey Dillon lost his second fumble of the season on a first-and-goal play from the Chiefs' 5-yard line. It was also the second time he lost a fumble near the opposing goal line, the first coming in Buffalo back on Oct. 3. Despite the costly fourth quarter turnover, the Patriots went right back to Dillon trying to milk the clock on the next series. He carried seven times for 28 yards to set up a Patriots field goal that staked them to an 8-point lead with 1:46 to play. "Since I messed it up, I mean give me the opportunity to redeem myself," Dillon said. "I'm disgusted about that. Things happen. Immediately, everybody said we're going to need you to come through and run the ball hard and get us down there and that's basically what I did. That's what I love about this team. No matter what, they believe in me, I believe in them and we fight to the end for each other. That's a good thing and that's what I love about this place." Dillon ran for 98 yards against the Chiefs, giving him 998 on the season in just nine games. He also caught a 20-yard pass. Of his 26 runs, nine went for 1 yard or less with three resulting in losses of 8 combined yards. Two his runs were longer than 10 yards and 11 were 5 yards or longer.
RB Rabih Abdullah was released by the Patriots Sunday and replaced on the roster by linebacker Justin Kurpeikis, who was activated off the practice squad. Abdullah signed with the club back on Sept. 11 and played in seven games, mostly on special teams, where he was third on the team with 10 tackles. He also had 10 rushing attempts for 3 yards and caught one pass for 9 yards.