Versatile Westbrook seeks rushing and receiving records Print
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Thursday, 27 December 2007 12:06
NFL Headline News

 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Brian Westbrook doesn't play many meaningless games because he's too valuable to risk getting injured.
With the Philadelphia Eagles out of playoff contention, Westbrook won't sit out Sunday's season finale against Buffalo to gear up for a Super Bowl run. Instead, the dynamic running back has a chance to pursue a few team records. Of course, he'd rather chase a championship.
``It's important in a way, but your season and your record is more important,'' Westbrook said. ``When you look back on your career, those types of records become more relevant than right now.''
Westbrook needs just 2 yards to break Wilbert Montgomery's club record of 2,005 total yards from scrimmage set in 1979. He also needs three receptions to break Irving Fryar's mark of 88 set in 1996.
Ricky Watters was the last Eagles player to lead the NFL in total yards with 1,855 in '96. Westbrook also has a chance to become the first Eagle to lead the conference in rushing since Steve Van Buren in 1949. He trails Minnesota's Adrian Peterson by 14 yards.
Westbrook is facing an injury-ravaged defense that's allowed 465 yards on the ground in the past two games, including 289 to the New York Giants last Sunday. But Peterson has an even easier task against Denver, which has the third-worst run defense in the league.
``It would mean a lot,'' Westbrook said. ``It comes down to carries and how many carries you can get over the whole season. This year, I've had probably the most carries that I've had in a season and I've been able to stay relatively healthy. It's been very productive for me in that way.''
The Eagles (7-8) aren't going to the playoffs for only the second time in Westbrook's six seasons here. If they had a spot locked up, there's a good chance Westbrook would watch safely from the sideline.
In 2004, Westbrook was held out of the last two games because Philly had secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He played just one series in the final game last year because the Eagles clinched the division title once Dallas lost its game earlier that day.
Westbrook doesn't need rest this week because Philadelphia's next important game is nine months away.
``That might not be something that's No. 1 on his list, but we'd like to help him make history any way we can,'' coach Andy Reid said.
Westbrook has not only established himself as one of the premier offensive players in the league, he's finally silenced critics who thought he was too small - he's 5-foot-8 and 203 pounds - to play every down.
After quarterback Donovan McNabb sustained a season-ending knee injury last November, Westbrook carried the offense. He's followed that with an even better season, earning his second trip to the Pro Bowl.
Overall, Westbrook has 1,291 yards rushing on 271 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per run. He has 86 catches for 714 yards. His 12 touchdowns include seven on the ground and five receiving.
``I have a hard time believing anybody can do it better than this kid,'' Reid said. ``I look at everything. I'm looking at his blocking, his route-running, how detailed he is with his route-running, not only from the backfield but with flexing out and all different kinds of positions, and his ability to run the football.''
Not bad for a guy who went to Villanova and waited until the third round to get drafted in 2002. If Westbrook finishes first in total yards, he'd become just the third player from a non-Division I-A college to lead the league in the last 30 years. The others were Montgomery (Abilene Christian) in 1979 and Walter Payton (Jackson State) in 1977 and '78.
``I guess the attribute that makes him so good is that he's so multidimensional,'' Bills coach Dick Jauron said of Westbrook. ``He runs it so effectively, he catches it so effectively. Even when they don't use him and he's on the field, he draws the attention of your defense, so he's just an all-around outstanding player.''
Like the Eagles, the Bills (7-8) have nothing to play for except pride and personal stats. For Buffalo that's not unusual. The Bills are seeking their fourth non-losing record this decade and their eight-year playoff drought is the longest in franchise history.
 

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