The Eagles' running attack is in limbo as the team awaits word on Brian Westbrook's ankle surgery this morning in Baltimore.
While a team source and Westbrook's agent said Wednesday that the surgery to clear bone spurs in the right ankle would be minor, another source close to the situation was more worried about the severity of the injury.
"I'm just concerned that [the surgery] is being underplayed," the source said yesterday. "It's a lot more than a little spur and it's much more than the knee arthroscopy" Westbrook had in February.
Mark Myerson of the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction in Baltimore was to operate.
The Eagles start training camp on July 26 and begin the regular season on Sept. 13. The team and its fans want to know how long Westbrook will be sidelined and how well he will play when he returns, but there were no solid guesses yesterday.
Estimates will be better after Myerson performs the surgery and assesses the problem. At that point, the Eagles will have a better idea how to proceed.
Coach Andy Reid did not speak with reporters yesterday after the team's voluntary workout at the NovaCare Complex, though a team spokesman said Reid would address them today after Westbrook's surgery.
Eagles president Joe Banner did not respond to an e-mail asking if the team would pursue help at the running-back position. Banner said Wednesday that he felt the Eagles had good depth there, but that was before he knew that Westbrook would require a second operation in this off-season.
Beyond Westbrook, the Eagles have little experience at running back. If you add the career numbers of all the other running backs on the roster, they are less than the touches or yards from scrimmage Westbrook had during the 2007 season alone.
Lorenzo Booker has taken the majority of snaps with the first-team offense in Westbrook's absence, while rookie LeSean McCoy has worked primarily with the second-team offense. Kyle Eckel and Leonard Weaver are both considered fullbacks that can also run with the football.
"The good thing is we're at the beginning of June as opposed to the beginning of August," Booker said after yesterday's workout. "Had we been at the beginning of August, we might be in a little more trouble.
"I mean, he's got June, July and August. That's three months," and "the procedure is supposed to be minor."
Correll Buckhalter, who signed with the Denver Broncos during free agency, probably would look good in an Eagles uniform. The free-agent market is always thin by this time of the off-season, and the premier player still on the market is Edgerrin James, who was released by the Arizona Cardinals.
The New Orleans Saints reportedly have shown interest in James, who is represented by Drew Rosenhaus. The agent did return a message yesterday.
Booker was candid and confident when asked about Westbrook's absence.
"Would the odds be as much in our favor if he wasn't with us? No," Booker said. "I think anybody would be lying if they told you [otherwise]. Does that mean I have a lack of confidence in myself or anybody else that comes in to play the position? No, not at all.
"But obviously, Brian is not a guy you just pick up off the side of the road. You don't just say: 'Brian is out. We're going to keep on doing the things we're going to do.'
"That's why it is a position by committee. If I can't do all the things that Brian does, then we're going to get other people to step up to play a bigger role and pick up the slack. All I'm here is to do my best. Of course, I would love to have a career like Brian. I would love to play exactly like Brian, but that's not something everybody can do."
The Eagles took McCoy in the second round of this year's draft because they say he will eventually do some of the same things that have made Westbrook so valuable to the offense. The rookie admitted that he was still learning the offense.
"It's hard to talk about playing immediately if I don't know what I'm doing," he said. "So we've got to get that squared off first."
McCoy has time to learn the offense. It's the same amount of time Westbrook has to recover from this morning's surgery.
"We need him here," McCoy said. "That's the biggest thing. It's not about me. It's about getting him here. He's the guy."