Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Where do the Eagles turn at RB?

I remember seeing Brian Westbrook sweat it out at training camp last summer.

Where do the Eagles turn at RB?

I remember seeing Brian Westbrook sweat it out at training camp last summer.

Working on his footwork, running through drills with trainer Rick Burkholder, trying to show Andy Reid he was healthy enough to get back on the field.

Even when he was on the sidelines at Lehigh, Westbrook was in LeSean McCoy's ear, advising the Eagles' rookie running back, showing him the ropes.

Now, six months later, after a frustrating season that included a pair of concussions, Westbrook's career in Philadelphia is over.

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Is releasing Brian Westbrook the right move?
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Drafted in the third round in 2002, Westbrook spent eight seasons here, earning Pro Bowl honors twice and often putting the offense on his back.

It's hard to believe that he's just two years removed from quite possibly the best year of his career. In 2007, Westbrook set career highs with 1,333 yards rushing, 771 yards receiving and 2,104 total yards from scrimmage.

I was asked earlier about the Westbrook memory that sticks out in my head. It has to be the 84-yard punt return in 2003 at the Meadowlands. With Donovan McNabb having completed just nine passes for 64 yards on the day, and the Eagles (2-3 at the time) facing a 10-7 deficit, it was Westbrook's return that saved the season as the Birds finished 12-4 while advancing to the NFC championship.

But, this is the NFL.

And that means that seconds after you recall your favorite Westbrook memory, your buddy is texting you about who the Eagles should add to replace him.

Here's a look at the RBs on the current roster:

LeSean McCoy - He obviously now owns the position. McCoy carried for 637 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He also caught 40 balls for 308 yards. McCoy is the future, and he's more than capable of being an every-down back as he continues to work on his blocking and blitz pickup. But he will be just 22 years old when the Eagles head to Lehigh next summer. The Eagles will need to find the right complement.

Eldra Buckley - He's not the guy. The Eagles liked using him at times in short-yardage situations, but don't expect to see Buckley play a much larger role.

Leonard Weaver - This is an interesting one. Do the Eagles have enough confidence in Weaver as a ballcarrier to team him up with McCoy as a two-headed monster going into 2010? He had 70 carries for 323 yards last season. Weaver is a restricted free agent, but it would be surprising if he somehow did not return.

Martell Mallett - The Eagles signed the CFL's rookie of the year last month. That's about all we know about him.

So, where does this leave us?

The Eagles could draft a running back. But would that really make sense, given that they spent a second-rounder on McCoy last year and expect him to be the guy well into the future? I don't really think so.

The more likely route is to bring in a veteran running back who fits their needs. I know what you're thinking. Didn't they have a guy like that in Westbrook? Yes. But who knows what his health is like? And who knows if he still believes he can play a larger role elsewhere?

LaDainian Tomlinson was released yesterday, and according to the New York Daily News, Jets RB Thomas Jones could be next.

Chime in on the comments below. Where does the team go from here? What's your favorite Westbrook memory? We're two and a half weeks removed from the Super Bowl and more than two months away from the draft, but there's no shortage of topics to discuss.

Colleague Mike Potter found a highlight video that is embedded below, and photos from Westbrook's career are at the top.

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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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