All week, LeSean McCoy walked around the NovaCare Complex with a football held firmly under his right arm. His choice, he said. The rookie had an idea he would see more playing time against Kansas City since Brian Westbrook had not practiced all week because of an ankle injury.
"If he had the ball in his hand, it was high and tight to his body," center Jamaal Jackson said.
On Saturday, when McCoy was told he would make his first NFL start, he said he was nervous but prepared. He made few mistakes yesterday, rushing for 84 yards on 20 carries while scoring his first career touchdown.
With no fumbles.
"I don't want to get that tag that I can't hold on to the ball," McCoy said. "I made it one of those things for myself that I was going to hold on to the ball no matter what."
However, he forgot to hang on to one important ball: the one he carried 5 yards out of the Wildcat formation for the first TD of his career and the first score of the day for the Eagles.
"Oh, my God! I forgot about it," McCoy said. "I was so excited."
Coach Andy Reid praised McCoy's all-around game in place of Westbrook, who should be back Oct. 11 after the bye week, the coach said. In the meantime, McCoy gained valuable experience.
"Are there things that I can find that he can do better after I watch the film? I'm sure I'll find something there," Reid said, "but he played well, and he was aggressive carrying the football."
Reid and Jackson noted McCoy's ability to pass-protect, too. The rookie made a key block on Chiefs linebacker Demorrio Williams on a 43-yard completion from Kevin Kolb to DeSean Jackson in the first quarter.
"That's what made Brian Westbrook so important in this offense," the center said.
The Eagles trusted McCoy with a great deal of the offense as he replaced Westbrook. Besides the 20 carries, McCoy ran five plays as the quarterback in the Wildcat offense - the spot designed for Westbrook and Jackson.
"It says a lot about my coaches," McCoy said. "I'm a rookie, and having to start, they gave me reps to run the ball, go out of the Wildcat, do different things. It means a lot."
And McCoy made his mark as another one of the young Eagles stepping into a bigger role seamlessly. His only regret was that he had to do some searching for the memento from his first NFL touchdown.
"Is it too late," he asked, "to get the ball?"
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.