E.J. Biggers, LeSean McCoy

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) leaps over Washington Redskins cornerback E.J. Biggers as he breaks free for a touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Nick Wass

PHILADELPHIA - Even LeSean McCoy realizes he needs a break.

The Eagles running back set a career-high with 31 carries in a 33-27 victory at Washington on Monday. Although he gained an NFL-best 184 yards, he acknowledged that he wouldn't mind sharing the load with Bryce Brown and Chris Polk in Sunday's home opener against San Diego at Lincoln Financial Field.

"I didn't mind it Monday night," McCoy said Thursday. "But I don't think I need to carry the ball 31 times a game for us to be successful offensively. It's a long season and I think the running backs we have here can definitely play, so I think we can do a better job of rotation. And we have too many different weapons (at other positions)."

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Brown and Polk weren't used much against the Redskins. Brown had nine carries for 25 yards. Polk didn't touch the football.

But both have shown the ability to be productive when given the opportunity. When McCoy was sidelined for four games with a concussion last season, Brown rushed for a combined 347 yards and four touchdowns in his first two career starts. He had some trouble with fumbles but still rushed for 564 yards and four TDs on 115 carries (4.9 yards per carry).

Polk made the team as an undrafted rookie last season but was sidelined for most of the year with a foot injury. He bounced back with a solid training camp and preseason this summer.

"We know we need to get other guys in there," coach Chip Kelly said Thursday. "We've got to do a better job of rotating some of those guys. We need to see Bryce a little bit more, we need to get Chris in the game. When you're going to play that many snaps, you've got to make sure you don't run your own team into the ground."

Kelly's desire to spread out the carries among the running backs has prompted the group to start thinking of a nickname for the trio similar to the "Three-Headed Monster" backfield that featured Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter and Duce Staley in 2003.

McCoy's suggestion was "Earth, Wind and Fire," though none of them knew much about the legendary singing group. A reporter suggested they check out a concert later this month at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, but the Eagles are heading to Denver to play the Broncos that weekend.

"If we pick that, I'm Earth," McCoy said.

McCoy, who is 5-feet-11 and 211 pounds, averaged 14.7 carries per game for his first four NFL seasons after joining the Eagles as a second-round draft pick in 2009. He busiest season was in 2011, when he averaged 18.2 carries while rushing for 1,309 yards on 273 attempts in 15 games.

He was used more as a receiver in former coach Andy Reid's West Coast offense, catching at least 40 passes in each of the previous four seasons. Against the Redskins, he had just one reception for 5 yards.

"A couple of years ago there was all this talk about, 'Oh, McCoy doesn't touch the ball enough,' " McCoy said with a laugh. "Now I'm touching it too much. Which one is it? But I do realize I have to do a better job of monitoring myself.

"I was gassed out there on Monday. I'm usually playing at 100 percent, but when I'm gassed that 100 percent drops. Those are the times when I need a break."

McCoy's workload likely will vary from game to game, depending on the opposing team's defensive game plan.

While Kelly likes to rely on a running attack, there are also plenty of other playmakers on the Eagles' offense. Quarterback Michael Vick has three tight ends - Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey - available, as well as wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Damaris Johnson and possibly Jeff Maehl.

Against the Redskins, for example, Jackson caught a team-high seven passes for 104 yards and one touchdown, all in the first half. Celek also caught a touchdown pass. Casey, who was signed as a high-profile free agent, was virtually invisible on offense but could very well have a breakout game against the Chargers.

"I think the one thing about us offensively is we do have a very good running attack," Kelly said. "But we also have receivers and tight ends that have to be covered, too. So we understand how the game's going to be played, and if you're going to try to take away one aspect, then we have to be able to execute in another aspect."

Extra points: The Eagles announced Friday that starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher will not play against the Chargers after suffering a concussion Monday. Brandon Boykin will start in Fletcher's spot while Brandon Hughes will replace Boykin in the slot. Hughes was released last weekend, but re-signed on Tuesday.

Contact David Weinberg:


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