WHAT ARE YOU always told? Be accountable. Speak up for yourself. Walk into the boss' office and tell him in no uncertain terms what you can do for him, how you can help.
Six games into this season, Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver had carried the football four times for 16 yards. He had caught seven passes for 35 yards.
"Early on I was like, 'Man, are they going to use me more?' " Weaver, the fullback, was saying yesterday in the team's locker room. "Because I wasn't really on the field much, even as a blocker. So I was like, 'I hope I'm not one of those guys who end up on special teams.'
"But one thing I've learned about Andy is that he always has a plan. Even when it doesn't look like it."
Weaver had drawn a small crowd now around his locker, the inevitability of being a big part of the plan. Since that game against Washington on Oct. 26, when he ran once for 1 yard and caught a pass for another yard, Weaver's profile with the Eagles has increased dramatically. Maybe there was some planning to this, who knows, but the greater likelihood is that what happened that night, and the day after, had much more to do with it.
Brian Westbrook suffered the first of his two concussions in the Eagles' 27-17 victory over the Redskins that night.
The next day, "I went to Andy and said, 'Feel free to lean on me,' " Weaver said. " 'I'm here for you.' I wanted to let him know that . . . he had somebody else to lean on. That was my thing going to him.
"His response was, 'OK. Let's go.' "
The Eagles played the Giants the following Sunday. Leonard Weaver got the ball right away, and right away he backed up his bold words. He banged through the Giants' defense for a 41-yard touchdown that gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead. He ran seven more times with the ball, amassing 75 yards by day's end. He and rookie LeSean McCoy combined for 157 of the team's 180 rushing yards.
The Eagles crushed New York, 40-17.
Weaver was no longer fretting about special teams.
Did the Eagles discover something that day?
"I think so, man," Weaver said. "I think they've had an opportunity to say, 'Well, we knew what we were getting into, but maybe it's better than we thought.' "
Weaver is not a centerpiece. And as long as Reid is the coach, no fullback will be. But the Eagles' offensive minds seem to view him as a significant piece these days, something that - plan or no plan - was not evident before Westbrook's head injury.
Beginning with that game against the Giants, Weaver has touched the ball an average of six times per game. With Brent Celek battling through a thumb injury, he has caught five passes in the Eagles' last three games, all victories. Last Sunday in Atlanta, he one-handed one of those passes intended to get short yardage and turned it into a 59-yard gain - Donovan McNabb's longest completion of the season.
"We have another dimension with Weaver," McNabb has said. "He can play the tailback position. He can play the fullback position. He's picking up blitzes for us . . . Whenever he's back there, you have the confidence he's going to do the right thing."
It's why they got him, really. He caught 59 passes over the previous two seasons for Seattle. Weaver said he brought of all this up to Reid during training camp.
"I told him I can basically do anything," he said. "Whatever you ask me to do. And that's been kind of my motto. I can do it. That's where we've gone from there."
It's been a slow trek. Slower than he would have liked. Only a couple of Sundays ago, as the Eagles struggled to punch it in from the 1-yard line against the Redskins, Weaver could be seen emphatically punching his chest and imploring the coaches to put the ball in his hands.
You wonder what might not have been had Westbrook not been hurt, Celek not been hurt, McCoy not been so young.
You wonder. The ever-optimistic Weaver doesn't.
"The thing I've learned about Andy is that you've got to trust him," he said. "Not just in the number of carries, but trust him in general. We've developed a little bit of a relationship that I've been excited about."
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