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Ezekiel Elliott tops the list of surprising NFL running back statistics through Week 5

Ezekiel Elliott, Tevin Coleman and David Johnson have racked up some impressive statistics, and Todd Gurley hasn’t so far this season.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been an interesting season so far in terms of running back performances around the NFL. Ezekiel Elliott is already making a name for himself by churning up yards and scores on the ground for the Dallas Cowboys, and last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, Todd Gurley, is languishing with a Rams offense that has been less than stellar.

Some of the statistics for running backs this season, though, stand out for being extremely unusual.

3 running backs leading the charge

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

Elliott got off to a slow start in Week 1 with just 51 rushing yards, but through five weeks of the season, his 546 rushing yards give him more than 22 NFL teams have gained with their entire backfields this year.

But that’s not the most interesting thing about Elliott’s stats so far this season. According to Gil Brandt, Elliott also has more rushing yards before contact than the Jacksonville Jaguars’ have in total rushing yards.

Elliott is using his speed effectively, getting up to 21.5 miles per hour on this 60-yard touchdown run in Week 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The dynamic duo of Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott makes the Cowboys the first team to have a rookie quarterback exceed 1,000 passing yards and a rookie running back with more than 500 rushing yards in first five weeks of the season.

Elliott has become a member of an elite group of backs to rush for over 130 yards in three consecutive games, and when you look at the company he’s in -- Chris Johnson in 2009, Steven Jackson in 2009, and Adrian Peterson in 2012 -- it makes it even more impressive that he’s done it as a rookie.

Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

Coleman didn’t exactly tear it up during his rookie year — cracked ribs, a late-season concussion, some fumble issues, and the emergence of Devonta Freeman didn’t help. Over the course of this offseason, though, Coleman has really developed as a receiver.

As a matter of fact, Coleman was the first player this season to surpass 100 receiving yards against the stingy Denver Broncos defense. The Broncos have faced dynamic receivers like Kelvin Benjamin and A.J. Green this season, but the first player Denver allowed to get 100 receiving yards was a running back.

He’s been particularly effective out of the slot, leading all running backs through five weeks with 129 receiving yards at that position, according to’s Marc Sessler.

Coleman’s speed helped him get to 132 yards against the Broncos. According to the NFL’s director of football communications, Randall Liu, Coleman was the fastest NFL ball carrier in Week 5, reaching speeds of 22.25 miles per hour.

David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

Johnson ran all over the San Francisco 49ers last week, racking up 157 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and he was rightfully honored as the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. Johnson was the first Cardinals running back to be acknowledged as the Offensive Player of the Week since 1996, when LeShon Johnson earned the award.

Bruce Arians thought Johnson’s performance left a little to be desired, though.

And 1 who surprisingly isn’t

Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams

Gurley had a phenomenal rookie season for the St. Louis Rams, but the team’s move to Los Angeles hasn’t been terribly kind to him. After a 1,106-yard, 10-touchdown campaign in 2015, Gurley has just 288 rushing yards on 21 attempts per game this season. His per-carry average is an abysmal 2.7 yards, which is a little better than half of last year’s yards per carry of 4.8.

As a matter of fact, Gurley’s yards per attempt is so poor that through four weeks of the season, he was ranked 43rd out of 44 eligible backs for that statistic. The 44th running back? Adrian Peterson, who will soon cease to be eligible due to being placed on injured reserve.

* * *

The NFL has been more of a quarterback’s league in recent years, but this year has been a little different. Tony Romo is injured, Tom Brady served a four-game suspension to start the season, and Cam Newton and Carson Palmer have been playing poorly and sidelined by concussions.

That’s created an opportunity for running backs to take center stage, and electric performances from players like Elliott, Coleman and Johnson have been a lot of fun to watch this season. Gurley is lagging behind, but still has a lot of season left to get back to form in this Year of the Running Back.