Run Reggie Run and maybe catch a few passes too - Photo by J Robbins

Run Reggie Run and maybe catch a few passes too - Photo by J Robbins

Someone posting on my blog this week made the remark that the New Orleans Saints had an impressive outing running the ball in Week 1 after I put in a post that two backs that both got around 5o yards on the ground each was not exactly setting the world alight.

I stick by that, but I did say at the time that Reggie Bush could legitimately catch 150 passes in a season. Bush is creating a position that is almost unique, a dumpoff back that is gameplanned to be dumped off to as a first resort by Drew Brees, not a last resort after seeing a primary and secondary target man marked.

I call him the best wide-back in the NFL !

It got me thinking who is the best catching running back in NFL history (past and present combined) ?

Well here are the top running back/full backs listed by the amount of regular season receptions they have made Up to end of 2007, and the team they had the most impact on and then average catches per year (in brackets)

TOP 5 all time – all retired

Larry Centers – 827 catches – Arizona Cardinals – Full Back – 1990-2003 (64 catches a year)

Marshall Faulk – 767 catches – St Louis Rams – Running back – 1994 – 2005 (70 catches a year)

Keith Byars – 610 catches – Philadelphia Eagles – Fullback – 1986-1998 (51 catches a year)

Marcus Allen – 587 catches – Los Angeles Raiders – Running back 1982-1997 (39 catches a year)

Tiki Barber – 586 catches – New York Giants – Running back  1997-2006 (65 catches a year)

Top 5 – active all playing in 2008 in NFL

Warwick Dunn – 463 catches –  Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1997 – now (46 catches a season)

LaDanian Tomlinson – 458 catches – San Diego Chargers  – 2001 – now (76 catches a season)

Edgerrin James – 418 catches – Indianapolis Colts – 1999 – now (52 catches a season)

Michael Pittman – 415 catches – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 1998 – now (46 catches a year)

Ahman Green – 364 catches – Green Bay Packers – 1998 – now (40 catches a season)

Where does Reggie Bush fit in ?

Reggie Bush – 161 catches – New Orleans Saints – 2006 – now (81 catches a season)

Other current contender in the NFL

Brian Westbrook – 347 catches – Philadelphia Eagles – 2002 – now (69 catches a season)

So what do the numbers tell us ? Well if we extrapolate Reggie Bush’s season average over a 10 year period then you have Bush at 810 catches and he becomes the all time greatest catching running back in NFL history.

Both the Chargers LT and the Eagles Brian Westbrook have proved over a longer period that they are true dual talents both running and receiving – Westbrook has two 1,200+ rushing seasons to add to his catches and LT has a mind blowing 7 1,200 yard + ground yard seasons.

Reggie Bush is in my opinion not a #1 running back but he is an All Pro wide-back – maybe I have given Reggie a title that matches his talents ! He is not a 1,500 yard running back but he is a 1,500 yard a season gainer (not even including his punt returns). 

Who do you think the best wide back is in NFL history ?

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