Philadelphia loses big-play threat

The Eagles' rode to the Super Bowl will be much bumpier with Brian Westbrook standing on the sidelines.

Updated: December 30, 2003, 11:28 AM ET
By By Darrell Trimble | NFL Insider
The Philadelphia Eagles have home-field advantage and finished the season winning 12 of their last 14 games, so it's no wonder they're the odds on favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But their chances of winning their first conference championship in 23 years took a big hit Saturday when running back Brian Westbrook tore his left triceps tendon in the season finale.

Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said team doctors were leaning toward operating now, but Westbrook wants to play in the postseason and is visiting specialists to see if that's even a remote possibility. But it's extremely unlikely that he'll see the field before next season.

Brian Westbrook
Philadelphia won't be the same without Brian Westbrook.
The Eagles can take solace in the fact that they had a three-headed rushing monster, so Westbrook's loss still leaves them with two quality backs to pick up the slack. Duce Staley is a former 1,000-yard rusher who has great hands and Correll Buckhalter is a tough, between-the-tackles runner that has good speed. And it should be noted that Westbrook only got 10 offensive touches a game. But he did make the most of them, and for all of Staley's and Buckhalter's positives, neither is the big-play threat that Westbrook is.