Despite suffering two concussions within a span of a month, Brian Westbrook has every intention of playing football again. This season, in fact.
"That's my hope, to get back out there and play," Westbrook said Wednesday in his first press conference since suffering his second concussion at San Diego on Nov. 15. "I think all the signs right now are aiming towards being able to play before the end of the season."
Westbrook ran with the scout team in practice Wednesday. It is the next step in a gradual recovery process that is being closely monitored by team medical staff as well as specialists in Pittsburgh.
Westbrook, appearing on HBO's Joe Buck Live from New York University Tuesday night, said he was "really scared" about his future in football.
Westbrook clarified that remark Wednesday.
"I'm more concerned about how things will happen for me in the future, how having concussions now will affect me 20-30 years from now," Westbrook said. "I'm not scared to play the game of football, but I'm concerned that things that are happening now within the game of football -- concussions, head injuries, things like that -- can really affect my life as far down the road as 30, 40 50 years. That really concerns me."
After sustaining a second concussion Nov. 15 against the Chargers, Westbrook visited with concussion specialists in Pittsburgh. The doctors there released a statement saying they expected Westbrook to make a full recovery.
"What I learned from the doctors is that I wouldn't have a higher risk of getting a concussion if I come back after healing completely," Westbrook said. "That's the No. 1 thing, you have to heal completely before you come back."
Westbrook sustained his first concussion on Oct. 26 when he took a knee to head from Redskins linebacker London Fletcher. He sat out two weeks before returning to the field at San Diego. But even those two weeks in between action may have not been enough.
"The doctor said although some of the symptoms were gone, I was not healed completely," Westbrook said. "We did every test we could. Until you go out there and get hit you're not sure if you're healed completely or not. It's not like an ankle where you're going to feel it every single day, or a knee.
"What I learned from the doctors is that I wouldn't have a higher risk of getting a concussion if I come back after healing completely. That's the No. 1 thing, you have to heal completely before you come back."
When healthy, Westbrook adds another dimension to this offense. This season, he is averaging 4.8 yards rushing and 7.6 yards receiving.
"I still think I can play, still think I can produce," Westbrook said. "I want to play football. That's what I love to do. That's what I've been doing for a long time. That's what I want to do."
Westbroook said he feels no pressure to return to the lineup. He just wants to get back on the field and contribute.
"I think the only pressure I have is me wanting to go back out there and play the game," he said. "I want to come back because I think I can help this team win some football games. Of course, our final goal is to win the Super Bowl, and I definitely want to be a part of that."
Westbrook took a major step forward Wednesday by just getting back on the field. His return to game action will be a collective decision between himself, doctors and team medical staff and head coach Andy Reid. Westbrook said he has discussed and explored new helmet options.
"It's still up to the doctors and how things go out there at practice and things like that," Westbrook said. "My major thing now is to continue to try to progress and get better every single day and see how things go from there."
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 2:30 p.m., December 9