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Redskins offer Westbrook a contract

The Washington Redskins have made a contract offer to former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, coach Mike Shanahan said yesterday.

The Washington Redskins have made a contract offer to former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, coach Mike Shanahan said yesterday.

"We want him to sign with us," Shanahan told reporters after a workout session. "It could be some great competition. I really like Brian, what he's done and how he's handled himself. I'm sure he's weighing some options. It's not too far away from home. Any more I can do?"

Shanahan jokingly said he already has reminded Westbrook that his brother, Byron, plays for the Redskins.

The Redskins have not heard back from Westbrook or his agent, Shanahan said.

"No, but if you guys hear anything, just tell him that we're ready," he said.

Washington already has a stable of older running backs with Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker.

Westbrook, 30, has met with Washington, Denver and St. Louis and has passed a physical.

Joining the Redskins would reunite Westbrook with Donovan McNabb.

McNabb was clear that he has no role in personnel decisions, but did say he and Westbrook talk regularly.

"Brian and I talk and it does not just pertain to football," McNabb said. "We are good friends and we have been playing together for the last 9 or 10 years and I just want the guy to have the opportunity to be able to continue on what he started and be able to prove the critics wrong that he can still play. If it's here or anywhere else that's his decision and the people upstairs. For me, I am just trying to get my feet settled and just try and get this thing in the right direction."


* New England receiver Wes Welker is running pass routes again 4 months after knee surgery.

The NFL's receptions leader last season participated in the Patriots' voluntary practice. He took part in agility drills, made cuts while running patterns and caught passes while wearing a brace on his left knee.

Welker had surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament of that knee on Feb. 2 after being injured in the team's final regular-season game.

* Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said the team is working closely with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to make sure he turns his life around, but Tomlin is not offering any specifics.

Tomlin says he talks regularly with Roethlisberger, who recently underwent a behavioral evaluation as part of the six-game suspension given him by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The suspension could be reduced to four games at Goodell's discretion, but the Steelers say their intervention isn't specifically designed to ensure Roethlisberger returns to the field sooner.

Roethlisberger was suspended after a 20-year-old Georgia college student accused him of sexual assault in March. No charges were filed in the case, but Roethlisberger was disciplined by the league for failing to follow its personal conduct policy.

* Green Bay cornerback Al Harris says there's no doubt he'll be back helping Green Bay on the field this season after a major knee injury. The former Eagle, who tore a ligament in his left knee on Nov. 22 against the 49ers, said he never thought about calling it quits.

* St. Louis free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, the team's top playmaker the last four seasons, has become an unrestricted free agent after failing to come to an agreement on a multiyear contract. Atogwe is coming off shoulder surgery that sidelined him the final four games last season.