BETHLEHEM - Brian Westbrook probably still is a couple of weeks away from putting on pads and practicing with his teammates. But he still managed to serve a valuable purpose yesterday as the Eagles conducted their first full-gear workout of training camp.
Westbrook watched the practice from the sideline and spent a lot of time offering advice to rookie running back LeSean McCoy between reps. McCoy listened intently to everything the veteran told him.
Coach Andy Reid said earlier this week that he was hopeful Westbrook would be cleared to practice by mid-August. That still seems a likely return timetable.
"Right now, he's chomping at the bit to get back in," Reid said. "We just have to make sure he's healthy and ready to go. He's in great shape. He just needs to heal up. He'll be back soon enough.
"Down the line, he still has to be cleared by the doctor. But he looks like he's ahead of schedule. We'll see how he continues to improve. Rick [Burkholder, the Eagles' head trainer] has been challenging him with some pretty intense stuff. He's been handling it and he's pain-free. That's a good thing."
Westbrook had two large bone fragments removed from his right ankle on June 5. Dr. Mark Myerson, who performed the surgery, said at the time that it was unlikely the soon-to-be-30-year-old running back would be able to play in the preseason.
The last few years, Westbrook generally hasn't gotten any more than 10 to 12 carries in the preseason. It's much more important that he get a substantial amount of practice reps before the season opener.
"I've got to be smart with it and make sure he's right," Reid said when asked if he'd like to get Westbrook some preseason carries. "I'd give up that want-to to keep him healthy."
Andy Reid has lost a substantial amount of weight - about 75 pounds - since the end of last season. But he's not ready to celebrate. "It feels better," he said. "I don't want to make a big deal about it. I've got to get through Christmas first. You get toward the last part of that season, I watch you [media] guys swell up and I swell up right with you."
It appears Reid has lent those 75 pounds to defensive tackle Mike Patterson. Patterson, who is listed at 6-1 and 300 pounds, is significantly heavier than he was last season. Probably closer to 360 than 300.
Patterson and the Eagles' other starting defensive tackle, Brodrick Bunkley, were used mainly on first and second down last season and didn't play in the Eagles' nickel and dime packages. With stopping the run his top responsibility now, he obviously feels the extra weight will benefit him.
There will be a private memorial service for Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson next Friday at 2 p.m. It will be held inside the West Club at Lincoln Financial Field. At the family's request, the service will be by invitation only.
Johnson died on July 28 following a 7-month battle with cancer. He was 68.
Wide receiver Kevin Curtis left the morning practice with a thigh contusion after colliding with safety Quintin Demps. Reid is hopeful Curtis won't miss much practice time.
Curtis missed seven games last season after needing surgery to repair a sports hernia he suffered early in training camp. He aggravated it after he came back and needed more surgery in April. He tested his groin during the 3-day rookie portion of training camp, and had no problems with it.
Other players who did not practice yesterday: offensive tackles Jason Peters (quad spasms) and Shawn Andrews (back), cornerbacks Asante Samuel (hamstring) and Victor Harris (high ankle sprain), defensive end Victor Abiamiri (strained pec muscle), defensive tackle Trevor Laws (hamstring) and Westbrook.
* The Eagles had to move their afternoon practice inside because of rain. The practice lasted just 65 minutes.
* Running back Lorenzo Booker, who dropped a couple of passes in Thursday's non-contact practice, dropped a couple more in yesterday's first full-gear workout. Booker, who got just 26 touches last year after the Eagles traded a fourth-round pick for him on Draft Day, is no lock to make the roster. "He's got good hands," Reid said. "I'm not sure what the deal is. He dropped a couple yesterday and a couple today. He'll work through that."
* Reid, on the back problems of Shawn Andrews, who missed most of last season after needing back surgery: "I'm not really concerned at all. I just want to make sure he gets his treatment down and gets back out there."
* Linebacker Chris Gocong, who was a pass-rushing defensive end in college, got in some work yesterday morning with the defensive linemen in pass-rushing drills against the offensive linemen.
* Wide receiver Hank Baskett had an impressive morning practice, catching a couple of long passes from Donovan McNabb. He also did a nice job of blocking on some run plays.
* With Jeremy Maclin still not in camp, Booker and wide receivers Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and Marcus Thigpen took turns returning kickoffs.