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Merrill Reese: Appreciating Westbrook

Take The Time To Appreciate Westbrook

Brian Westbrook ran for 167 yards and gained 209 yards from the line of scrimmage on Sunday in the Eagles' win over Atlanta and in some ways, for some people, it was just another routinely spectacular performance.

For me, it was another case of being amazed and surprised by his brilliance.

Every time Westbrook has a game like he had on Sunday, I admit that I'm surprised. I know I shouldn't be, because he does the things he does so frequently that you come to expect big games every week from Westbrook. Consider: He was not fully healthy, with ribs that still hurt, he hadn't played in a few weeks and he still went out and had a dominating performance. And it wasn't just the numbers that were impressive, it was the way that he played. He lowered his shoulder when he had to; he ran to daylight, he was a factor in the passing game.

Westbrook has run me dry out of adjectives. That is saying something.

We have to appreciate the greatness of Westbrook. He is still playing at a peak level in his career and you have to admire that. I've always thought that Westbrook and Wilbert Montgomery are the two greatest running backs I've seen in my career broadcasting Eagles games and I have a tough time putting one ahead of the other. But every time I see Westbrook I think to myself, "Oh, my goodness, could Wilbert have been this good?" That's just the way he is.

Eagles fans must understand that Westbrook is not going to last forever, and neither is Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins or even a young player like DeSean Jackson. Players don't play more than a set amount of years, so when you see a player like Westbrook perform at the level he is at for this number of years, you have to step back and know that you are seeing something special. Enjoy it. Appreciate it. The Eagles have a running back who is, right now, at the very, very top of his profession. There is no running back better and in fact there is no player better with the ball in his possession in the National Football League than Brian Westbrook.

I love the way the Eagles are using Westbrook. I think he needs his touches and he needs to be a vital part of the offense every week. I was disappointed that the Eagles didn't sew things up earlier against the Falcons, because I would have liked to have seen them give him down time and wrap him up and send him to the bench.

There are still some concerns with the Eagles in their red-zone offense. Having a healthy Westbrook is going to help solve some of those problems – he wasn't healthy enough to launch himself over the line of scrimmage down at the goal line on Sunday, but he will be soon – scoring touchdowns.

There is nothing Brian Westbrook can't do and there is nothing Brian won't do for this football team. He is simply a great, great running back, one who – and I know I shouldn't say this – continues to amaze me. You think I would be used to by now, but I'm not.

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