Lost in the wake of Sunday's 33-14 win over the Buccaneers was the return of running back Brian Westbrook.
Sidelined two weeks ago with an ankle injury, Westbrook may have had only 18 yards on 6 carries for an un-Westbrook-like 3.0 yards per carry. But it was a pivotal drive in the third quarter where Westbrook showed he can still take over a game.
After an Asante Samuel interception in Bucs territory, Donovan McNabb found Westbrook singled up in coverage against a linebacker. It's a mismatch the Eagles have been able to take advantage of for years. McNabb got Westbrook the ball for a 20-yard gain. On the next play, from the Tampa Bay 7-yard line, Westbrook plowed through a hole on the right side of the line for a touchdown to put the game out of reach at 28-7.
"Hopefully people still understand that I can still do those types of things," Westbrook said after the game. "Hopefully if I get some more opportunities they can see that a little bit more. I can still be a very dynamic player in the NFL, there's no doubt about that. I just have to go out there and get the opportunity as well."
Since 2004, Westbrook has been the workhorse back for the Eagles. In each of the last three seasons prior to this one, Westbrook had at least 233 rushing attempts. In 2007, Westbrook had a career-high 372 total touches (including receptions and punt returns). This year, Westbrook has 32 carries for 134 yards and a touchdown. He also has 8 receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown.
"I definitely felt really good. The few opportunities I got, I think I did really all that I could do with those carries, those catches," Westbrook said. "I think just now, (I) just had the opportunity to get my feet wet with this game. Now I'm looking forward to more touches next week."
Of course, Westbrook missed a game. But the emergence of rookie running back LeSean McCoy also factors into Westbrook's role. McCoy has 40 carries for 162 yards and a touchdown this season. This does not mean that Westbrook's workload will be limited for the remainder of the season. The key here is sustainability. The Eagles want Westbrook to be effective late in the season when the push for the postseason is on.
"This is all just easing (Westbrook) back in and getting Brian back to where he is comfortable," said head coach Andy Reid. "He came out of this one healthy and good, so that's a plus."
Westbrook helped tack the coffin shut for the Eagles on Sunday, but that's all he needed to do. McNabb's outstanding performance, the breakout game for Jeremy Maclin and the defense allowed Westbrook to be a role player Sunday. There certainly will be a game where the Eagles need to lean on Westbrook. The Eagles want to make sure he'll be in a position to deliver.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 11:55 a.m., October 12