First let us all pray that Brian Westbrook is healthy and remains healthy for the duration of the season. Now we can continue on with our program. When the Eagles selected running back LeSean McCoy it was with the hopes that he would some day supplant current running back Brian Westbrook. Their hope is that someday is not this season.
Coach Andy Reid has stated that Lorenzo Booker and LeSean McCoy would split first team duties when the veterans report for training camp. Reid also stated earlier in the offseason that Booker would still be Westbrook's back-up. Yet many people are still clamoring about McCoy and what he will do in this Eagles' offense. Which brings us back to Booker.
To count on a rookie in the NFL is like trying to count on Rush Limbaugh making sense. It very rarely happens and when it does it is almost always by accident. Eagles coaches, the media, and even some fans can hope that McCoy is a factor this year but they need Booker to be a factor. The difference between hope and need could be the difference between a Super Bowl win and another conference loss.
Booker will be called on early in training camp and he can not fail. That means no hand slaps after he drops a perfectly thrown pass. That means no gestures after he trips over his shadow and has a three yard gain. The former Gatorade High School Player of the Year has to be on point this year for the Eagles to go deep in the playoffs. Even if Westbrook is healthy there are still going to be games when he is not a factor and the Eagles will need a change of pace back to step in and give them something. McCoy cannot be counted on to be that back.
McCoy needs time to develop, the same time Westbrook received when he was a rookie and the same time Booker received last year. It is vital that McCoy only be used in spurts and not be depended on to carry the load. Booker should be versed in the playbook and everything should be second nature for him at this point. Correll Buckhalter played big for the Birds last year when Westbrook was healthy and when he was hurt, now it is Booker's turn.
If Westbrook is not healthy this year and the Eagles are forced to depend on McCoy then the offense will be one-dimensional and the season will end early. However if McCoy can play in spots and Booker can contribute then maybe the Eagles will be able to get over that NFC Championship hurdle.