Westbrook's Injury Could Be Blessing in Disguise

Zack TertelContributor IJune 9, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 1: Running back Brian Westbrook #36 (R) stands on the sideline with second round draft pick running back LeSean McCoy #29 of the Philadelphia Eagles during minicamp at the NovaCare Complex on May 1, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

When Eagles fans hear the words "Brian Westbrook" and "surgery" in the same sentence, you can't blame them for pressing the panic button. 

When it was announced that Westbrook would have surgery to remove bone fragments from his ankle, everyone looked for answers as to what to do next. 

The surgery means his foot will be in a boot for the next four weeks. After that, he will have to get into playing shape and hope that the ankle heals on schedule. 

The Eagles have to pray that he recovers on time for the start of the regular season and doesn't have to start on the PUP list.

The Eagles' offense runs through Westbrook, so they need him on the field in order for Donovan McNabb and company to perform at a high level. 

So everyone wants to go out and get someone to plug in while Westbrook is out. 

My question is: "Why?" 

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While I won't pretend that this is the best thing that could have happened during this offseason, there are potential positives that could come from this. 

First, this allows the ever-aging Westbrook to possibly take it easy during training camp and the preseason. 

At this point in his career, Westbrook doesn't need preseason. All that would do for him is put him in position for a potentially more serious injury. And any time you can avoid getting Westbrook hit, that can't be bad.

LaDainian Tomlinson never took a preseason snap during his best years. I think Westbrook has a similar role in his team's offense in which preseason is unnecessary and cannot lead to anything good.

It's not like the Eagles are implementing a new offense for Westbrook to learn either. As long as he is ready to go Week One, that's good enough.

The Westbrook injury also gives Lorenzo Booker and rookie LeSean McCoy a chance to show what they have. 

Booker couldn't find the field last year, and when he did, Eagles fans couldn't wait for him to get off it. 

It's not like he was a scrub his rookie year with the Dolphins. In seven games in Miami, the third-round pick from Florida State averaged 4.5 yards a carry and caught 28 balls for 237 yards. 

Booker is no Westbrook, but he could step in and play the same type of role as B-West.

McCoy now gets the chance to learn the offense first-hand. The fear of a rookie breaking down later in the year is always there, but that should not be a concern here. 

Increased preseason carries can't hurt in the long run, and it isn't like he's going to get even half the carries when Westbrook comes back. McCoy does have a thumb injury, but that's no reason for concern. 

Again, it's only June.

Even if the Eagles did decide to go out and get a back in free agency, who would they get? 

Some of the names that came up in conversation included Warrick Dunn and Edgerrin James. 

First, people need to look at it from their point of view. 

Why would any of the top running backs want to sign a contract with the Eagles? 

I'm sure they would love to just take some hits in place of a rookie until Westbrook comes back and get cut at the beginning of the season. Yeah, all of those 30+ year-old running backs can't wait to play preseason football.

This means the Eagles would have to sign someone who would be willing to step into this temporary role. The problem with this type of signing is that those types of players are not really even a step up from what the Eagles have right now with Booker.

A relatively minor surgery in early June is not worth worrying about in the NFL, even if it is to an offense's No. 1 weapon. 

If it gets closer to the regular season and it starts looking like Westbrook might not be ready, that's when the Eagles might want to consider making a move. 

They could pick up someone after they see what they have from McCoy and Booker in preseason and consider what is left on the market.

There will also probably be a few more running backs cuts around the league after training camp. 

Eagles fans, back away from the panic button.

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