Candidates: Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson, Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell
Background: This position battle is different from many of the others you will see. More than one player is going to see significant time at the running back position. What we do not know yet is how many players, which players they will be, and what percentage of the workload each player will get.
Handicapping the battle: If all things are equal, Ivory and Goodson seem to have the inside track. They were both acquired by John Idzik this offseason. Powell and McKnight are holdovers from the Mike Tannenbaum regime. Idzik seemingly acquired Ivory and Goodson because he did not believe Powell and McKnight are good enough. Goodson's arrest and pending criminal charges muddy the waters, though, and create a potential opening for the other two. Powell is the only one of the four without significant injury concerns, which gives him a bit of an advantage. McKnight is one of the best kickoff return men in the game, giving him a path to the roster even if he is fourth on the depth chart.
JB's optimal use: Ivory is the lead back getting around 220-240 carries. The speedy Goodson serves as a change of pace guy, third down back, and somebody who can give Ivory a rest. He gets the majority of the remaining carries. Joe McKnight gets sprinkled in for around five plays a game designed specifically to get him the football in space.