Westbrook Will Do Whatever's Asked

Posted Dec 31, 2006

Now that he's healthy, Brian Westbrook is especially dangerous. The Eagles may insert him onto their punt return team if they feel they need an extra boost on special teams, but since Westbrook is just getting over the flu, the overtime may have to wait.

For the first time since Week 1, running back Brian Westbrook was used as a punt returner Monday in the Eagles' 23-7 win over the Cowboys.

Westbrook returned two punts in the second half. He had 13 and 1-yard returns. That was in addition to the 26 carries and two catches he had.

Special teams coordinator John Harbaugh said Westbrook is "definitely in the mix" as far as possibly returning punts Sunday in the final regular-season game against Atlanta and also in the playoffs.

Running back Reno Mahe has been the Eagles' primary punt returner the past two seasons. He is sure-handed and a good decision-maker, but he isn't the breakaway threat that Westbrook is.

Westbrook returned punts early in his career, but when he became the Eagles' primary running back, he gave up that job. Until this season, there had been injury issues with him, and coach Andy Reid didn't want to push the envelope with him.

Westbrook was bothered by a sore knee earlier in the season that kept him out of one game and limited his participation in practice for about a month. However, he is averaging nearly 23 touches per game and has been extremely productive. He needs just four catches Sunday to become just the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 1,200 yards and catch 80 passes.

As far as returning punts, Harbaugh said it would be "game-by-game as far as the game plan and really rep-by-rep as to whether we put him back there." In other words, if it's a tight game and the Eagles need a big return, Westbrook will get an opportunity.

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