5-17-01, 3:55 p.m.
Updated: 5-18-01, 10:45 a.m. with chart.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
Memo to agent David Dunn and Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn:
Corey Dillon is shooting for another contract after the 2005 season.
Only the incomparable Jim Brown gained more yards on fewer carries on the list of running backs with the best first four-year rushing stats in NFL history , which is a major reason he doesn't think his new five-year deal is going to be his last NFL contract.
There is plenty of tread on the tires for a guy who turns 27 on Oct. 24. And he's lobbying for more work. He wants to change the scheme of the last few years and remain on the field for third down running and receiving.
He knows he's going to get more work with Dick LeBeau in his first full season as head coach. In fact, Dillon does a great imitation of LeBeau talking to the team in the way he emphasizes words with his body sway:
"We've got a four-straight 1,000-yard rusher and we're going to run the football."
Plus, quarterback Jon Kitna, who worked this offense in Seattle, has marked Dillon down for 40 catches.
"I have less carries and about the same amount of yards," Dillon said Thursday of the top running backs. "That has to tell you something. To me, that's a plus. Maybe nine years for one guy is 12 or 14 for me. I'm going to go until I can't run anymore. I can't guarantee anything, but if it pans out and the Lord keeps me healthy, I don't see why not."
Dillon's 4,894 yards on 1,073 rushes is the 11th best four-year start in NFL history. But the only man ahead of him with fewer carries is Brown with 5,055 yards on 964 carries.
The top three Eric Dickerson (6,968) , Earl Campbell (6,453), Terrell Davis (6,413) all had at
least 270 more carries than Dillon. Dillon never had more than 263 carries in a season until he carried 315 times last year.
Eddie George, Dillon's contemporary with the Titans, had 287 more carries than Dillon in his first four seasons and is sixth on the list with 471 more yards at 5,365.
"He hasn't had to be the workhorse even though he has been the workhorse," said running backs coach Jim Anderson. "Maybe in the games, you're behind, and maybe you're throwing the ball more than you want because we're trying to catch up. Those are some of the reasons he didn't get the carries he could have gotten.
"But last year we solidified our offense by giving him the ball," Anderson said. "There was the commitment to giving him the ball."
Commitment? In the 49 games before LeBeau became head coach. Dillon averaged 16.3 carries per game. After LeBeau, it was 21. And remember, Dillon didn't start nine games as a rookie.
His goal is to keep running.
"I would love to do what Walter Payton did," Dillon said. "He was one of the greats who stayed in the game a long time. That means something to me."
Payton, the NFL's all-time rushing leader with 16,726 yards, did it on 3,838 carries in 13 seasons.
Dillon is 2,765 carries shy of Payton. If he averages what he did last year 315 attempts it would take him 8.8 more seasons to match Payton's total carries. Which would take him into his 13th season.
Of the six retired running backs ahead of Dillon on best four-year start chart, they played at least eight seasons (Earl Campbell) and as long 14 years (Ottis Anderson). Half of the top ten have played at least 10 seasons.