When your RB goes down ...

Updated: September 15, 2004, 9:18 AM ET
By Randy Mueller | ESPN Insider
A lot has been made this week of older running backs who are not quite ready to be pushed out the door. We all saw last week what Curtis Martin, Marshall Faulk and Emmitt Smith can still do. Each put together an impressive game and each will be counted on to continue to do so throughout this NFL season. As an NFL general manager, you like to see a guy who can be counted on to carry the load each and every week. But there's more to it than that.

Most teams view the job of NFL running back, as they do that of a quarterback, as a two-man job. It's not if your guy will go down … but when. The punishment that a running back takes on a weekly basis is something most of us can't imagine. If the average career of an NFL player lasts four years, the average running back's career has to be less. Teams are always asking themselves, how much longer can they go? That raises a question that's tough to answer.

How much insurance do you buy against the starter missing some time?