Westbrook Wants Deal Done Before Season
In his first scheduled news conference of training camp, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook said he wants his new deal done before the season starts, though he shied away from setting a deadline. He also acknowledged the complexity of his situation, under arcane NFL salary cap rules that make it hard for the Eagles to structure such a deal. Meanwhile, it was a chippy morning practice, with 3 fights, on the first day of over-30 players getting the A.M. off.
Westbrook Wants Deal Done Before Season
Brian Westbrook remains intent on getting is contract restructured sooner rather than later. Westbrook, in his first news conference of training camp, was asked if he would participate in the first preseason game, Aug. 8 at Pittsburgh, Westbrook said he would cross that bridge when he came to it.
"That's what I'm counting on," Westbrook said, when asked if he wanted the deal done before the start of the season. "I don't have a deadline right now ... I want those guys to be able to work through something. Hopefully, it happens some time soon."
Westbrook also acknowledged that salary cap rules make it hard to rework his current contract, which runs through 2010. The cap situation will be explained a little more thoroughly in Tuesday's Daily News. Long story short, the Birds converted a payment to Westbrook earlier this year from a roster bonus to a signing bonus, which was something both sides had agreed to do. If there's another adjustment in Westbrook's salary within a year of that move, it can't change his total cap figure for the remaining three years of his deal. Other rules make it hard for the team just to give him a large lump sum payment.
"I think they can abide by those rules and get a contract done," Westbrook said. "It's an obstacle, of course, but working together with them and the NFLPA, they can get it done."
Eagles president Joe Banner said Monday nothing is new in the Shawn Andrews absence. Westbrook said he had talked with Andrews and hopes to see him in camp soon.
The morning workout was the first in which most over-30 veterans were excused, after practicing twice a day for two days. Backup QB Kevin Kolb looked much sharper, throwing to first-team receivers. Rookie wideout DeSean Jackson "tweaked" the hamstring he injured last month in minicamp and spent some time working with injured players on the side. Jackson didn't leave the field and it seemed unlikely he would be sidelined long.
Defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who is being given a chance to win a starting job, has suffered a setback in that effort. Abiamiri dislocated a bone in his right wrist Sunday and apparently will be out a while. He has consulted with a hand specialist, but the Eagles did not provide a prognosis. Linebacker Rocky Boiman sat out with a lower leg contusion. Trevor Laws (foot), Bryan Smith (hamstring) and Asante Samuel (hamstring) also missed the drills.
Three fights at the morning practice and Jon Runyan isn't even on the field? What are the odds?
Runyan's 30-plus club membership gave him the morning off. Replacement Winston Justice, whose fire has been questioned by radio host and former Eagle Hugh Douglas, was in the middle of one scrum, swinging at both linebacker Omar Gaither and safety Quintin Mikell.
"No, I don't," Justice said, when asked if enjoyed mixing it up. "It's not football. You don't want to go out there and box people, you want to play football. Even though I can box, too." Justice worked with a boxing trainer to stay in shape when he was suspended from the USC team for a year.
Justice wasn't sure who he tangled with. "There were, like, four people there. I can't name 'em. I was just hittin' whoever I saw," he said.
Mikell was a repeat pugilist, after going at it with wideout Mike Gasperson in the day's first bout.
In the to-and-fro of shoves and punches, Mikell ended up running into massive right guard Max Jean-Gilles. "I was running toward the pile and all of a sudden, I saw nothing but green," Mikell said, referring to Jean-Gilles' jersey.
"The linemen were trying to clean up the pile," Mikell said, referring to Runyan's favorite tactic, blasting latecoming tacklers. "We like it when it's in the game, not out here."
* The nonfight play of the day was a gasp-inducing scamper by Lorenzo Booker, who got a lot of reps, with Westbrook sitting out contact drills (the 28 3/4s club?). Booker turned the left corner, faked, bobbed and dazzled his way through the secondary, running out of a Sean Considine tackle en route to a 60-yard touchdown.
*Stewart Bradley laid a nice lick on Tony Hunt.
* With Booker flanked wide right, Kevin Kolb threw underneath him to a wide-open L.J. Smith.