Eagles move on without Westbrook
November 18, 2009
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – LeSean McCoy can’t be a rookie anymore.
With Brian Westbrook sidelined after sustaining two concussions in three weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles are turning to McCoy in a backfield where the most experienced ball carrier is a fullback.
“I just want to help out the offense as much as possible,” McCoy said Wednesday. “I never really expected to play a big role like this. But I got drafted for a reason. I have my chance, my opportunity and I have to make the best of it.”
While the Eagles (5-4) were on the practice field preparing for an important game at Chicago (4-5), Westbrook was in Pittsburgh visiting with two concussion specialists. The former All-Pro running back suffered his first career concussion on Oct. 26 against Washington. He missed two games and returned only to get another one in last Sunday’s loss at San Diego.
Westbrook won’t play against the Bears, and it’s unknown if he’ll return at all this season.
“We’ll know more on him as the next day or two go on,” coach Andy Reid said. “I talked to him on Monday and he was in a good place. I think he’s grateful to have the care that he’s had. He seemed to just want to find out what went on with this next one, but he didn’t seemed rattled.”
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The Eagles are getting used to playing without Westbrook, who already has missed three games this year. His injury history is a major reason Philadelphia drafted McCoy in the second round of the NFL draft last April.
McCoy broke several of Tony Dorsett’s rushing records in two seasons at Pittsburgh. He leads the Eagles with 353 yards rushing and two touchdowns while averaging 4.1 yards per carry.
“Guys are kind of relying on me to step up,” he said. “You can’t have any rookie mistakes.”
Behind McCoy on the depth chart are third-year pro Eldra Buckley, who has four career carries, and rookie P.J. Hill, who hasn’t played a single down yet. That means fullback Leonard Weaver will play a bigger role in the running game. He has 22 carries for 126 yards, including a 41-yard TD run.
“It takes something away because you’re talking about one of the best backs in the league and now we don’t have him,” Weaver said. “We’re going to have to step it up. We’ve done it before.”
McCoy’s biggest adjustment has been pass-blocking and picking up blitzes. He’s also had some issues with ball security. He must improve in both areas if the Eagles are going to rely on him to fill Westbrook’s shoes.
“His maturation rate has been accelled due to what Brian has gone through and that started back up at camp,” Reid said. “He’s handled it well. I think he feels good physically right now. He’s not banged up or nicked up. I think he’s okay there. I had a chance to meet with him on Monday and sit down and talk to him a little bit. I think he’s in a good place that way. He’s excited about the opportunity this week to jump in there and be the guy.”
Quarterback Donovan McNabb is confident McCoy can do the job.
“I think he’s ready to go,” McNabb said. “I think, again, it goes back to just providing that confidence for him. That he understands that we’re all behind him, we’re supporting him and that we know he’s going to do a great job.”