"Dawk" won't be the only long-absent Brian returning to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
Running back Brian Westbrook, who last appeared in a home game Oct. 11 against Tampa, has received medical clearance and is practicing with the regular offense, Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday. Assuming there are no setbacks, Westbrook is scheduled to play against the Denver Broncos and Westbrook's friend and former teammate, Brian Dawkins.
Westbrook, who has suffered two concussions, declined to speak with reporters yesterday, but Reid said his neurological test results were back to normal.
"He did perfect on it, so he's ready to roll," Reid said. "He's not doing the scout team stuff anymore, or show team. He's back in with the offense and going."
Reid continued to talk of easing Westbrook back in - but it's hard to say whether that means six touches this week, or twice that many.
"I don't think it's fair to him to throw him in and have him take every snap," Reid said. "He'll have his role and he'll do that part of it, and we'll go from there."
So, will Westbrook start?
"We'll see. There are different packages that they have, so both of them are going to get practice time and we're doing it a little bit different than we did before, sort of a rotational deal," Reid said. "I would probably tell you that LeSean has a little bit bigger package. I can't tell you who's going to be the guy that is on the field first."
Neither Reid nor anyone else can say what concussion repercussions Westbrook might face down the road, whether any long-term damage has already been done, or if he will make his long-term situation worse by returning to the field this season.
"I worry about him not as a football player, I worry about him just as a person, as a human being, a very good friend," Donovan McNabb said yesterday, when asked if he had any concerns. "I just want things to work out for the better, and he stays prayerful and understands that sometimes God puts us in positions at times to learn from our mistakes or to learn from the situations that we are in, so I think he'll be fine."
McNabb said Westbrook's return is "great timing for us because he'll get an opportunity to get two games under his belt, to get his legs back up under him [before the playoffs]. It's a different thing when you have that leadership back there in the backfield."
Reid does not seem to view Westbrook's return as a big risk.
"I think I'm to the point where I'm not concerned [about injury], I'm just concerned about him not having played in games and easing him back into that game speed and so on," he said.
Westbrook has been practicing with the scout team the past few weeks. Yesterday was his first "real" workout.
"West looked good today," fullback Leonard Weaver said. "He moved well, he looked like his old self."
Weaver reiterated what he and rookie running back LeSean McCoy have said several times - that they will have no problem making room for Westbrook, the Eagles' all-time leader in yards from scrimmage.
"He's the guy. He was the guy before me and LeSean got here, and he's going to continue to be the guy until whenever he says so," Weaver said.
Linebacker Chris Gocong clearly isn't happy about being replaced as the strongside starter by Moise Fokou, but Gocong said he is hopeful he can regain the spot he held for more than 2 1/2 seasons.
"Obviously, it's a tough pill to swallow," said Gocong, who played only on special teams against San Francisco. "But I'm going to do my thing, keep my head up, and you really never know what's going to happen."
Gocong didn't seem to think he had played poorly. He said he thought his worst game was in San Diego, when he was thrown into the middle, where he hadn't played since high school.
"I guess I've just gotta roll with the punches," he said.
Kyle Eckel, the Philly native and former Eagles fullback, has been signed by the Saints . . . Eagles rookie WR Jeremy Maclin, who missed last week's game with a plantar fascia injury, is back at practice and should play this week, Andy Reid said. "It looks good. We're just going to see how he does in practice here, but he'll be back out there," Reid said. "He says he feels pretty good. We'll just see how he does" . . . Michael Vick (quad) was the only Eagle to sit out yesterday's practice . . . Denver coach Josh McDaniel called DeSean Jackson "the fastest guy we've played, no doubt" . . . In the middle of answering a question about Brian Westbrook, Reid remembered he'd meant to congratulate Andy Talley on Villanova's national championship, so Reid just threw that in there. Unless you knew the link - Westbrook played for Talley at Villanova - it was a nonsequitor. *