Running back LeSean McCoy has started two games in place of Brian Westbrook this season due to injury and in those games McCoy has rushed 31 times for 166 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. In fact, McCoy is second among all NFL rookies with 294 rushing yards in 2009. He's on pace for 672 yards this season which would break the Eagles rookie rushing record currently held by Correll Buckhalter, who had 586 yards in 2001.
At just 21 years old and after only two seasons of college football at Pitt, McCoy was thrust into action immediately this summer as Westbrook took the time to allow his surgically repaired ankle to heal. McCoy proved quickly in training camp and the preseason that he could provide an instant impact for this offense. And with Westbrook missing time this season, it's a good thing the Eagles had him ready. McCoy certainly thinks all of those reps prior to the games that counted in the standings certainly were key.
"I think it helps out a lot just being in there, being in the mix," McCoy said. "It's a little different though during the season. I think guys step up and play a little harder. They're not just playing for a half. I think there's definitely a big difference, but it's definitely helped me out to get out there and play with the guys and get the experience. Teams are different, but they all have the same tendencies as far as speed, toughness, those types of things."
But the reps haven't been the only thing assisting in McCoy's quick development. Westbrook has mentored McCoy and guided him every step of the way. Westbrook has taught the rookie that it takes more than talent to be successful in the NFL.
"Somebody took me under their wing when I was young too," said Westbrook, who will return to the lineup Sunday night after missing last week's game with a concussion. "It's one of those things where if they don't learn from the older guys then they are going to make a lot of mistakes. Hopefully I'll have a good impact on LeSean, on his career and the things he's going to be able to do. He's going to be a very good player."
Not every player would lend a helping hand, especially to a person who could potentially take his starting job in the future. But Westbrook isn't every player.
"I don't worry about my job much. I honestly feel that when I'm healthy, when I'm doing the things that I can, I am one of the better running backs in the league, but I have to be able to go out there and do that. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to do that as of yet," Westbrook said. "That doesn't really affect me telling LeSean what to do and me trying to help him out when I can. In the NFL now a lot of teams have two backs and if the second back is no good and he doesn't know what he's doing, he'll never play. I think in this time and age you probably need two running backs."
Head coach Andy Reid said that Westbrook's guidance has been "invaluable" from a coaching standpoint.
"Veteran players want to keep their jobs, especially when they get a little older, and some of them can be very sensitive about that," Reid said. "Brian has enough confidence in himself and knows that LeSean is willing to work and willing to listen and be coachable so Brian shares with him some of his experiences and helps him out."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:07 a.m., November 5