Brian Westbrook

returned to the field yesterday, albeit for a short stint.

The Eagles running back, who missed the previous two days of practice because of flulike symptoms, participated in early noncontact drills, then left the field at Lehigh when the hitting began.

He remains sick but could return to hitting today.

Westbrook was not on the field long before the fans chimed in. After taking a handoff from Donovan McNabb in an offense-only drill, a fan yelled, "Give him his money, Andy!" in reference to coach Andy Reid and Westbrook's demand for a better contract.

Backup running back Lorenzo Booker has been impressive during training camp, but he said he misses Westbrook even if it means the new Eagle will get fewer repetitions when the veteran returns.

He said Westbrook has helped him learn the offense and correct some problems. There is a positive, though, to Booker's learning on the fly without Westbrook.

"I'm glad I'm doing it now as opposed to a couple days from now when we go to Pittsburgh" for Friday's preseason game, Booker said.

Smith can hit

Starting tight end

L.J. Smith

returned to practice Saturday afternoon, and he really wanted to test the injured calf that had kept him away from full contact.

Yesterday, he did just that.

"The calf's all right," Smith said. "It's not bad at all. Today was a good test to see where I'm at, and I feel good."

Special-teams watch

Special-teams coordinator

Rory Segrest

promised improved return units from last season simply because he has more experienced players.

"If you have five rookies on your offense, you're going to have some offensive mistakes there, and it's going to cost you at some point or another," Segrest said. "Same thing that we ran into with special teams last year. We had some great athletes on the field, but one guy would make a mistake, and it would look like the whole scheme was busted."

Segrest said linebacker Rocky Boiman, defensive end Chris Clemons, and safety Quintin Mikell have been the veteran leaders on the unit in training camp.

"It's a lot easier for the guys that have been out there, that have been in the battles, to understand the little concepts of the game, even a center trying to pick out and rub a guy off," Segrest said.

Injury report

Tight end

Matt Schobel

returned to practice after missing two days because of personal reasons. He injured his toe while falling in the end zone trying to catch a pass.

With a groin injury, cornerback Lito Sheppard also left practice early. Asante Samuel, Victor Abiamiri, Sean Considine, Franklin Dunbar and Kimo von Oelhoffen remained sidelined.

- Matt Gelb