This is the next installment in our series of 12 positions in 12 days previewing the upcoming Eagles training camp. Rookie and selected vets report to Lehigh July 26th and each day leading up to that date we will bring you a preview of a different position battle.
Today we take on a very scary position. I say "scary" because it could be "scary" good if all goes well... but if Brian Westbrook isn't healthy and LeSean McCoy isn't ready to play right away, we should be scared for our offense. And our playoff hopes for that matter.
After the jump, let's take on the running backs.
If he's healthy... there's no doubt that Brian Westbrook will be the starter at RB and get the lion's share of the touches at the positions. Actually, he'll probably get the lion's share of touches in the whole offense. But again, it all comes down to how healthy he is. Westbrook went under the knife twice this offseason in what were dubbed "minor" procedures to clean up his knee and ankle. The latter surgery will likely cause him to miss all of training camp and preseason.
For a running back that turns 30 this year, that's not the most encouraging offseason. We all know NFL RBs don't really fade away, more often they fall off a cliff. However, if you were to put a positive spin on Westbrook's offseason, you could say that it will only help that he finally got a couple nagging injuries that dogged him for the past two years taken care of. If his surgery this offseason means that he won't sit out of practice every week with everyone praying that his knee swelling from the previous game will go down enough for him to suit up on Sunday... then he could be in line for a great year.
Eldra Buckley claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers
LeSean McCoy drafted in the second round
What to watch for
Perhaps the biggest thing to watch for as far as the RB position goes will be whether the Eagles add another player to the mix. With veterans like Warrick Dunn & Edgerrin James still without teams, there's a chance the Eagles could look to bring in some veteran insurance for Brian Westbrook.
Since Westbrook won't be in camp, the RB position should be a pretty wide open battle. All eyes will be on highly touted rookie Lesean McCoy who will be the most talented, but least experienced back in camp. How quickly he picks up the offense, especially the pass blocking schemes, will be a big story at camp this year.
Last year's receipient of the "Na Brown Award" for the breakout star of training camp, Lorenzo Booker, will actually enter Lehigh this year as the most senior member of the Eagles RB corps. Booker is in his 3rd year in the NFL and second with the Eagles. After a great showing in camp last year, Booker really failed to impress when the pads went on and real games started. He carried the ball just 20 times for an average of 2.7 yards a carry. Most reports suggested that his lack of playing time though, was his inability to grasp the Eagles' pass blocking scheme. The fact is that if Andy Reid can't trust you not get his QB killed, he's not going to put you on the field. My guess is that Booker is in a serious fight for a roster spot this year.
Eldra Buckley is another small, speedy back that will compete for a spot this year. Kyle Eckel, although listed as a fullback, did a nice job running the ball in short yardage last year and should have a chance to carry the ball and compete in camp.
Previous position previews