NFL 2016: Dual Threat Running Backs
NFL 2016: Dual Threat Running Backs

They seem to be all over the NFL. Guys like Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson and others. Those running backs that can hurt you two ways: rushing or catching the ball. Here's a look at the NFL's best dual threat running backs

Double-threat running backs not only force defenses to be ready for anything, but they allow offenses to keep their best playmakers on the field in any situation.

"That's what you're looking for," says San Francisco head coach CHIP KELLY about dual-threat running backs. "You're looking for a back that can do it all. You want a guy who can be a three-down back."

Atlanta's Devonta Freeman finished seventh in the NFL last season in rushing yards (1,056) and ranked third among running backs with 73 receptions and 578 receiving yards. He was the only player in 2015 with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 50 catches.

"My thing is I want to be a complete back," says Freeman, who was selected to the 2016 Pro Bowl. "I don't want to come off the field. That's my mentality."

Entering his second season as the Falcons head coach, DAN QUINN appreciates Freeman's mindset and his ability to be a dual-threat running back. "I don't think he wants to leave the field," says Quinn about Freeman. "It's such a huge factor for a running back who can catch coming out of the backfield. We know that outside he can catch the ball. Whether it's aligned outside or in motion to the outside or swinging out of the backfield, he can catch out of all three."

More and more offenses are relying on these dual-threat runners to keep the chains moving. Six running backs gained more than 1,000 rushing yards while registering at least 30 catches in 2015.

NFL running backs that gained 1,000 rushing yards and caught 30 passes in 2015

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota

1,485 Rushing Yards; 30 Receptions

"If you get a guy like him out in space, whether it's a screen or a flare or an option route, defenders understand they're covering 28, and so they're going to give him the respect that he's due whether it's in the passing game or the running game. All he needs is a little bit of separation and catch the ball and then a lot of good things can happen out there." -- Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer

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Doug Martin, Tampa Bay

1,402 Rushing Yards; 33 Receptions

"He has a low center of gravity and he's got great vision as far as cutback ability. He's also a guy you have to pay attention to on the check-downs. He can sneak out of the backfield and they run screens with him. He is a dynamic football player that fits exactly what they're looking for." -- Carolina head coach Ron Rivera

Darren McFadden, Dallas

1,089 Rushing Yards; 40 Receptions

"He's a real pro. Just an unbelievably physical runner. He's physically tough. He's mentally tough. He's been a very productive player for us. He's one of those guys who gets better and better the more he carries the football." -- Dallas head coach Jason Garrett

Chris Ivory, Now with Jacksonville

1,070 Rushing Yards; 30 Receptions

"Ivory is a really tremendous back. He runs hard, breaks tackles, has great balance, is very hard to get on the ground, and he's made plays on check-downs and screens in the passing game, too." -- New England head coach Bill Belichick

Latavius Murray, Oakland

1,066 Rushing Yards; 41 Receptions

"This guy is really going to be an up-and-coming back. He has all the physical tools and he's a three-down back. When he comes downhill, he's a load." -- New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers

Devonta Freeman, Atlanta

1,056 Rushing Yards; 73 Receptions

"He's just an all-around back. He can do everything you want a running back to do and he's hard-nosed and smart. He can run downhill and stretch the field and run outside. He can run routes like a receiver and has great hands. He can pass protect. He's willing to do everything. The guy is just great. He's just a great player." -- Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston

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