Report: Brian Westbrook facing retirement

A great career might end on a sad note, as Philadelphia sports radio host Howard Eskin is reporting that Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is considering retirement.

From SB Nation.com:

Earlier in the season, rumors swirled that the oft-injured running back was considering retirement, but those were attributed to his concussions, two of which he suffered this season. Eskin reports that it’s the left knee that is hampering Westbrook, which was surgically repaired in the past.

Eskin says there is “almost no chance” Westbrook plays another game for the Eagles — he has one year left on his contract — and that the knee is in such bad condition, Westbrook may not even me able to pass a team physical to play elsewhere.

Looking at this realistically, the Eagles already drafted Westbrook’s replacement last April when they took LeSean McCoy in the second round. McCoy is a near replica of Westbrook, so there is no reason for Philly to pay the $7.5 million that is owed to the 30-year old back next season.

There will definitely be teams interested in Westbrook as a backup or platoon player, but if he can’t pass a physical then obviously he won’t be signed. If he does retire, it’ll be a sad way to go out for one of the league’s most productive backs over the last decade.


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NFL Playoff Preview: Saturday games

New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
4:30 pm ET
TV—NBC

Last Sunday night, the Jets closed out the actual regular season history of “old” Giants Stadium the way the Giants wanted to the week before, turning a win-and-in situation into a rout against the Bengals, 37-0. The Jets and their # 1 pass defense held the Bengals to zero passing yards for the game. That’s right, ZERO passing yards. That’s not likely to happen again today, when the Jets visit the Bengals for a rematch that will determine who goes home and who moves on to the divisional round of the playoffs. Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis held RB Cedric Benson out of the Week 17 game, and only let QB Carson Palmer play a few series before letting some bearded guy named J.T. O’Sullivan take over. Lewis didn’t want to show too much, but what he may have shown in the process was that his team is fading fast and may have won games early in the season with smoke and mirrors. The Bengals’ defense is also solid, ranked #7 against the rush and #6 against the pass, but if they allow Thomas Jones and the Jets’ running game to control the clock again, this could very well be another dominant performance by the Jets. And don’t forget the way Jets’ all-world CB Darrelle Revis shut down WR Chad Ochocinco on the field and then on Twitter. The hotter Jets should prevail again, but either way, this is a game featuring two of the NFL’s best defenses, so it’s likely to be ultimately determined by who makes the least mistakes.
THE PICK: JETS 17, BENGALS 13

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
8:00 pm ET
TV—NBC

For as surprising as the Jets’ thrashing of the Bengals was last weekend, the fact that the Cowboys shut out the Eagles may have been the biggest surprise of Week 17. Sure, the Cowboys have been on a roll since handing the Saints their first loss of the season a few weeks back, and haven’t given up a point since then. But the Eagles had won six in a row and were (insert cheesy line here like “flying high” or “soaring”). Despite having Brian Westbrook back, the Eagles have fallen to 22nd in the NFL in rushing offense and have been living by the big pass play most of the season, with second year WR DeSean Jackson changing games by himself on offense and special teams. The Cowboys, however, have beaten the Eagles twice this season, and their only losses came to the Giants twice (in games that could have gone either way), Denver, Green Bay and San Diego. They can run the ball (7th overall), pass with Tony Romo, Miles Austin and Jason Witten (6th overall) and they can stop the run (4th overall). The only blemish for the Cowboys is they are prone to big pass plays, but they seem to have remedied that recently, and with DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge, Donovan McNabb has to have eyes on the side and back of his head at all times. This game will certainly be close, and maybe come down to a field goal. And in that case, would you rather have David Akers or (gulp) Shaun Suisham as your kicker? That’s what I thought.
THE PICK: EAGLES 27, COWBOYS 24

NFL Week 12 ROY Power Rankings

Percy Harvin keeps gaining momentum and votes here with every TD catch from Brett Favre. But it’s still a pretty wide-open race here for NFL rookie of the year.

1. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings—Against the Bears, Harvin had another outstanding game—6 catches for 101 yards and a TD. Brett Favre might have more weapons than he’s ever had before, but none of them are more dangerous than this rookie.

2. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos—In the last three games, Moreno has averaged almost 6 yards a carry. And if you noticed the moves he was busting against the Giants, you know he deserves to be high up on this list.

3. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills—He’s now gone three games without a pick, but still has 8 of them.

4. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams—His 75 solo tackles not only rank at the top for any rookie, but that ranks Laurinaitis fourth in the NFL right behind Curtis Lofton, Jon Beason and Patrick Willis. Damn.

5. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles—Brian Westbrook has some mighty big shoes to fill, but so far McCoy is filling them.

Honorable mention: Hakeem Nicks, Giants; Johnny Knox, Bears; Ryan Succop, Chiefs; Michael Oher, Ravens; Matthew Stafford, Lions; Beanie Wells, Cardinals; Jeremy Maclin, Eagles; Brian Cushing, Texans

NFL Week 9 ROY Power Rankings

The first three players on this list were on bye last week, so we have to hold their places. Other than that, there have been quite a few impressive rookie performances this year so far…

1. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills—Seven picks leads all rookies and earned Byrd NFL defensive rookie of the month for October. What does he do for an encore? Vince Young might find out this Sunday in Nashville.

2. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams—He may have learned that the NFC West is not the Big Ten, but that hasn’t stopped Laurinaitis from making a lot of tackles. His 46 solo tackles leads all NFL rookies.

3. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings—One of the reasons Brad Childress is in line for coach of the year is that he foresaw Brett Favre and Percy Harvin making beautiful music together on the field, despite what all the critics were saying.

4. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles—His 115 all-purpose yards against Dallas was, dare we say it? Westbrook-esque.

5. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles—As if opposing defensive coordinators were having trouble sleeping while scheming for DeSean Jackson, now they have this kid to worry about too.

Honorable mention: Hakeem Nicks, Giants; Knowshon Moreno, Broncos; Johnny Knox, Bears; Ryan Succop, Chiefs; Michael Oher, Ravens; Mike Wallace, Steelers

NFL Week 8 ROY Power Rankings

The one guy we were neglecting so far was Minnesota’s Percy Harvin, who has slowly and quietly started to put up numbers and become a favorite target of Brett Favre. This is a guy Brad Childress took a big gamble on that so far is paying off. But Byrd and Laurinaitis are holding strong.

1. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills—Two more picks for this safety out of Oregon against the Texans, and now Byrd is tied with Darren Sharper for the NFL lead. That’s amazing in itself, but consider which team this guy plays for and it’s even more remarkable.

2. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams—Seven more tackles against Detroit…okay, we know, it’s Detroit….still, what Byrd has done to this point is slightly more impressive.

3. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings—Becoming a favorite target of Brett Favre, caught 5 more passes for 84 yards and a score in Green Bay.

4. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles—Filled in quite admirably for Brian Westbrook Sunday, slicing through a suddenly sieve-like Giants’ defense.

5. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles—Everyone on the Eagles had a field day against the Giants, this rookie included (4 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD).

Honorable mention: Hakeem Nicks, Giants; Knowshon Moreno, Broncos; Johnny Knox, Bears; Ryan Succop, Chiefs; Michael Oher, Ravens; Mike Wallace, Steelers

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