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News » Westbrook's production slipping

Westbrook's production slipping

Westbrook's production slipping
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Putting the ball in Brian Westbrook's hands when a game is on the line isn't working out the way it used to for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Westbrook, an All-Pro last year, has struggled to put up similar numbers this season. He ranks 32nd in the NFL with 655 yards from scrimmage after finishing first in that category in 2007.

One reason for Westbrook's declining production may be the holes he used to slither through aren't quite as big. The loss of two-time Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews (back injury) and poor blocking by inexperienced fullbacks has contributed to the ineffectiveness of the team's rushing attack.

The Eagles were eighth in the NFL in rushing last year with an average of 123.4 yards per game. They're 22nd this season, averaging 98.3 yards.

"I know this group of guys, talking about my offensive linemen, tight ends, receivers, the fullbacks, can get it done, as well as myself," Westbrook said Wednesday. "We're going to work hard and do everything we can to get the job going."

In last Sunday's 36-31 loss to the Giants, Westbrook was held to 26 yards rushing on 13 carries and had three catches for 33 yards. It was his lowest total yardage in a game in which he's had at least 10 touches since Oct. 2, 2005.

Westbrook couldn't get a crucial first down on the final drive, getting stopped for 2 yards on third-and-3 and no gain on fourth-and-1 near midfield. The Giants took over and ran out the clock.

"It's a different situation every play," Westbrook said. "It's not the same person or the same groups of people or the same schemes, it's different things every play. We have to do a better job of handling those different types of schemes and different personnel on every play."

Westbrook led the NFL with a franchise-record 2,104 total yards from scrimmage last season, including 1,333 on the ground. He became the first Eagles player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Duce Staley in 1998-99, and led all NFL running backs with a team-record 90 receptions.

The team rewarded him with a three-year contract worth $21 million, including $13 million guaranteed the first two years.

So far, Westbrook hasn't earned it.

"Unfortunately, I had a couple injuries here and there," he said. "I'm trying to get completely healthy and trying to help this team as much as possible. It's a little bit different because Don (quarterback Donovan McNabb) was hurt a little bit last year, so we ran the ball a little bit more. As a team, we have to be able to run the ball. We still have to be able to establish the run throughout the course of a game. When we have it established, we have to be able to call upon it and effectively use it. We haven't been able to do that."

Westbrook has been bothered by ankle and rib injuries that forced him to miss 2 1/2 games, though he had 167 yards rushing against Atlanta upon returning.

Overall, Westbrook has run for 448 yards and has 29 catches for 207 yards. He's second behind rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson in total yards.

"I'm still not quite 100 percent, but I'm feeling better than I was last week," he said.

Under coach Andy Reid, the Eagles (5-4) have always been a pass-first team. Westbrook always wanted more carries and got them last year. Only 30.8 percent of the team's plays (175 of 567) this season have been carries by the running backs.

"You have to be patient and you have to believe that it's going to work. You have to have that commitment to it," Westbrook said. "I think that there are situations at times when we probably should have more commitment to the run."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 13, 2008

Lito Sheppard Name: Lito Sheppard
Position: CB
Age: 27
Experience: 7 years
College: Florida
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