BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Brian Westbrook and Victor Abiamiri have identical mid-August target dates for their returns to the practice field, Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday as the team officially opened training camp at Lehigh University.
That was only good news for Westbrook.
Abiamiri, a third-year defensive end with a chance to open the season as the starter on the left side, only recently found out that he'd open training camp in one of trainer Rick Burkholder's rehabilitation programs.
"Victor strained a [pectoral] muscle," Reid said, later adding that the injury occurred while Abiamiri was lifting weights recently.
A year ago today, Abiamiri dislocated his right wrist during a practice at Lehigh, and it cost him the first five games of the 2008 season. He also missed the final game of the regular season and the Eagles' playoff game against Minnesota last season because of a Lisfranc foot sprain.
He is expected to battle veteran Juqua Parker for the starting job at right defensive end, although new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is expected to use a rotation system at that position in much the same manner that Jim Johnson ran things.
"Nobody is more driven than Victor," Reid said. "He wants to be out here practicing, and the injuries frustrate him. However, things happen, and he's just got to get over it and get himself healthy and get out there and perform."
Westbrook, meanwhile, was scheduled to report along with the rookies last night and continue his rehab over the next three days. He underwent surgery a little more than seven weeks ago to remove two bone spurs from his right ankle.
"Brian is actually up here now," Reid said. "He won't do any work on the field. He'll just do his rehab work. He won't go to any meetings [with the rookies]. He's strictly going to be getting back rehabbing with Rick. He spent the off-season here [in Philadelphia] doing the same thing."
Reid said his star running back should be able to return to the practice field by mid-August. By that time, the Eagles will have left Lehigh and returned to the NovaCare Complex for the remainder of the preseason schedule.
The team typically does not continue with full-contact workouts once it leaves Lehigh, and Mark Myerson, the foot specialist who operated on Westbrook's ankle, said it would be unlikely that Westbrook would be able to play in a preseason game.
Reid is concerned only with getting Westbrook ready for the Sept. 13 season opener against the Carolina Panthers. There is plenty of precedent from the coach's tenure that players who have missed the entire preseason have been ready for the start of the regular season.
"I think he has a chance to be back by mid-August, and we'll just take it from there," Reid said. "You never know on these things. Everybody heals a little bit different. Some people heal faster than other people. Brian has a pretty good feel of the offense, and it will just be a matter of making sure he is healthy as we get ready for Carolina."
Even though Westbrook has shown a remarkable ability to miss practice and still show up on game day, Reid said it was important that the running back get some practice time before the start of the season.
"I still think he needs to practice a little before he plays," the coach said.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Reid said guard Stacy Andrews should be ready to practice with the rookies when they take the field this morning, but there's still some question as to whether he'll be at right guard with the first-team offense when the team hits for the first time Friday. Andrews, signed as a free agent, did not run with the first-team offense during off-season camps after undergoing surgery in January to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
"He'll be able to practice [today] and we'll see how he does," Reid said.
Andrews said he was hoping to be cleared to do everything by Burkholder and the team doctors.
"I'm not exactly sure if I'll be ready," Andrews said. "I'm going to push it and see how it feels when the time comes."
Max Jean-Gilles, who spent the off-season recovering from a fractured fibula, and wide receiver Kevin Curtis, who underwent a second surgery to repair a sports hernia this off-season, will also take part in today's practice with the rookies.
Long snapper Jon Dorenbos is going to be a late arrival because he has shingles and was unable to board an airplane, Reid said.