The emergence of rookie running back LeSean McCoy as a viable complement to Brian Westbrook is one of the most positive developments of the season thus far. Not only does the addition of McCoy bring another useful weapon for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, but, more importantly, it should allow Brian Westbrook to remain fresh throughout the grind of the NFL season.
Westbrook is still the key to the Eagles' offense, but with some lingering injury questions and advancing age, it's important that he not be overused early in the season. Head coach Andy Reid has indicated that Westbrook and McCoy will split carries to some degree, and that will lead to a healthier Westbrook down the stretch, when the offense may need to rely on the veteran during a playoff push.
The deployment of two running backs is something that has become a trend in the league over the past few years, as it becomes more difficult to rely on one running back staying healthy throughout an entire season.
"It's been over for a while with few exceptions," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "This is a tough, physical game. It's become very specialized as well. Many teams have a normal-down back and then a third-down back and then a change-up guy. I think it's been over for quite some time with a few exceptions, with those rare special players, which Brian was and is."
Consider that only one of the 12 playoff teams, the Atlanta Falcons, from last season had a running back that was the lone rushing back. This season, five teams have only one running back with double digit carries.
Everything the Eagles have done in relation to Westbrook has seemed to have season-long sustainability in mind. He underwent two off-season surgeries and didn't participate in any preseason games. In April, the Eagles drafted running back LeSean McCoy, an NFL-ready player who is able to spell Westbrook and keep the veteran's legs fresh.
Another factor is that Westbrook is still getting adjusted to game speed, having only played in two games all year.
"He hasn't played much in games and everything is obviously a little faster in games," Reid said about Westbrook. "He's going through that process right now. It's just important that he keeps working through it. I know that he's working like crazy with the trainers. He gets frustrated a little bit because he wants to be out there every snap."
And when he is on the field, Westbrook doesn't hold anything back.
"As a player I'm always going to go full-bore," Westbrook said. "I'm always going to give everything I have. I'm hopeful that I will touch the ball as many times as I can, as many times as coach allows me to. I don't really think of it as, 'If you touch the ball 30 times a game you have two more years left, or three years or whatever it is.' Every time I touch it I try to do what I do with the ball and let the chips fall where they may."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 7:45 a.m., October 10