- The Washington Times - Monday, August 26, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Although he soon could break Earl Campbell's franchise record for career rushing yardage, Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George enters the season facing questions about his durability.
George ran for a career-best 1,509 yards on 403 carries two years ago, but following toe surgery before the 2001 season, he struggled to gain 939 yards and averaged a career-worst 3.0 yards a carry. The 1995 Heisman Trophy winner insists the relatively low production was an aberration.
"I like to think I'm better than I was because of what I went through," George said. "You can't be the same after going through that or any situation. You want to gain something from it and be a different person because of it, whether bad or good."
Titans coach Jeff Fisher has no doubt George has returned to form after seeing the four-time Pro Bowl player run through holes and outrun tacklers through minicamps and training camp.
"Without a question, in our mind, he's back," Fisher said.
George welcomes the extra attention and will be eager to show he's healthy in the Titans' opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept.8.
"I don't mind all the eyes on me to see what I do," he said.
The Titans expected some problems after doctors attached a tendon to George's right big toe before last season. The goal of the operation was to prolong his career.
But George struggled in 2001, failing to reach holes at the line, sometimes without any tacklers nearby. He sprained his right ankle early in the season and never found his stride. He played on, thinking he could fix his problems by staying on the field.
"It was extremely tough to deal with what I had last year and going into a game knowing I was only 60 or 70 percent," he said. "It really didn't help the team that much for me to be out there under those conditions."
The Titans turned the offense over to quarterback Steve McNair, who passed for a career-high 3,350 yards and 21 touchdowns. Fisher considered resting George at one point, but he never missed a game. Only Walter Payton (170) and Ricky Watters (114) have more consecutive starts than George's 96.
George topped 100 yards just once, however in a loss to Cleveland on Dec.30. And there was concern that he had absorbed too much punishment over his career.
He had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle after the season and used the four weeks of recovery time to reflect and attempt to put the year into perspective.
"It's good for me now. I see the different angles. I see what I have to do personally to be successful," he said.
George turned to trainer Raymond Farris, who helped Jerry Rice remain in top shape. He ran the same hills as Rice during the spring and learned by watching Rice's effort and dedication.
Fisher called it an important lesson, both emotionally and physically.
George needs 762 rushing yards to pass Campbell (8,574) as the franchise's career leader. He is 1,187 yards away from becoming the seventh running back in NFL history to top 9,000 yards in his first seven seasons.
George knows his day to retire will come. Not this year, though, and not as long as he can keep working.
"I'm just trying to take it year by year and be the best I can every single year," George said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide