This seems to be a good time of year for lists. And we are guilty of that, too. You will note the Daily News did its NFL Power Rankings earlier this week.
Now, ESPN.com has ranked the top running backs in the NFL, from No. 1 to No. 64, and the Eagles' Brian Westbrook comes in at No. 4. (By the way, you might need one of those fancy ESPN.com Insider accounts to access the link.)
The list has LaDainian Tomlinson, Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson ahead of Westbrook and has Larry Johnson at No. 5. Joseph Addai, Frank Gore, Marion Barber, Clinton Portis and Marshawn Lynch round out the Top 10.
As for Westbrook, ESPN.com cites his strengths: "Westbrook can align anywhere on the field and create mismatches. No linebacker in the NFL can handle Westbrook in man-to-man coverage. He has elite quickness to get on the edges and turn the corner. He is a better receiver than runner, and that is saying a lot because as a runner he shows excellent vision and instincts."
And his weaknesses: "Lack of size. He is not a guy who will carry the ball 30 times per game and wear down opposing defenses."
For purposes of comparison, here are the stats of the Top 5 from last season:
Tomlinson: 1,474 yards, 315 carries, 15 TDs
Peterson: 1,341 yards, 238 carries, 12 TDs (14 games)
Jackson: 1,002 yards, 237 carries, 5 TDs (12 games)
Westbrook: 1,333 yards, 278 carries, 7 TDs (15 games)
Johnson: 559 yards, 158 carries, 3 TDs (8 games)
Tomlinson: 475 yards, 60 catches, 3 TDs
Peterson: 268 yards, 19 catches, 1 TD (14 games)
Jackson: 271 yards, 38 catches, 1 TD (12 games)
Westbrook: 771 yards, 90 catches, 5 TDs (15 games)
Johnson: 186 yards, 30 catches, 1 TD (8 games)
So is Westbrook too high, too low or where he belongs? ...
In other Westbrook news, as Les Bowen reports: The Eagles scheduled running back Brian Westbrook for a news conference Wednesday, but he declined to appear. One version of events was that Westbrook wasn’t showing his continuing displeasure with his contract, but was tweaking the PR staff for not clearing the news conference with him in advance. Who knows?
On the injury front: Prize free-agent acquisition Asante Samuel and second-round rookie wideout and returner DeSean Jackson both left the field after suffering what the team called “minor” hamstring pulls. Samuel was not available for comment. Jackson, asked whether he would be sidelined for long, said, “I don’t plan to be.”