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Westbrook smart to share the load

I thought this was a good read -

By Paul Domowitch

 

SOMETIMES, many times, pro football players can't see the forest for the trees. Six years ago, Duce Staley couldn't.

He was a 29-year-old running back with 1,651 touches on his career odometer. He had just come off the "three-headed monster" season of 2003 that saw him combine with Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter for an impressive 2,465 yards from scrimmage.

Staley averaged a career-high 4.8 yards per carry that season, but the whole ensemble-cast thing left him unfulfilled. He wanted the ball. Wanted it a lot more than the 96 times he lugged it in '03.

He didn't understand that sometimes, less is more. Didn't understand that he could have extended his career - and his NFL paydays - by staying in Philadelphia and rotating with Westbrook and Buckhalter.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers offered him a 5-year, $14 million contract and the chance to be their workhorse running back, he jumped at it.

For the first seven games of the 2004 season, things worked out terrifically for Duce. He got 151 carries in those first seven games and racked up 707 yards. Had four 100-yard games.

Then he pulled a hamstring. He appeared in just three more games that season. Needed knee surgery the following summer and got just 38 carries in 2005. Was activated for just one game in 2006 and was released that December.

Which brings us to Westbrook. He turned 30 last week. His 1,854 regular-season and postseason touches through seven seasons are in the same neighborhood as Staley's.

The difference is, Westbrook seems to get the whole less-can-be-more idea. At least that was the impression I got from listening to him Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex.

I'm sure he is sick and tired of reading his career obituaries the last 8 months. I'm sure he is eager to prove that he's not Shaun Alexander or any of the other running backs who fell off the cliff when they hit 30.

That said, he also seems to have embraced the concept of a workload-sharing partnership with rookie Shady McCoy.

 

Full article here

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