Report: Westbrook out until Week 1 with high ankle sprain

According to a report by Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia, Eagles running back Brian Westbrook will be sidelined until at least Week 1 of the regular season due to a high ankle sprain.

Comcast SportsNet reported that Brian Westbrook was examined by ankle specialist Dr. Mark Myerson in Baltimore on Wednesday and may need to undergo a procedure to clean out the ankle. Either way, according to the report, Westbrook is done until the start of the regular season.

The only official comment thus far from the Eagles came from offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg who said that he wasn’t “concerned” about the injury after discussing it with Westbrook on Tuesday afternoon.

While working out recently, the ankle began to bother Westbrook and he contacted head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder to check on it. Andy Reid said on Tuesday that Westbrook would see a doctor, but again, there has been no official update from the team since.

Considering he’ll turn 30 in early September and averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in Philly’s last six games of the 2008 season, this is incredibly damper news for the Eagles. As the article states, the team hasn’t officially stated that Westbrook will miss camp and preseason, but let’s assume for a moment that the report is true.

Philly did draft “Shady” McCoy in the second round this year, but he wasn’t considered a prospect that could be an every down back and he had injury issues himself while at PITT. The Eagles also have Lorenzo Booker, who is a poor man’s Westbrook but like McCoy, isn’t considered an every down back. In seven games for the Dolphins last year, Booker rushed for 125 yards on 28 carries.

If Westbrook is out for the rest of the summer, the good news is that McCoy and Booker will receive plenty of reps. But nobody should be surprised if the team signs a veteran as insurance. Edgerrin James is still available, as is Deuce McAllister, although he’s expected to be suspended for the first four games of the 2009 season, so it’s doubtful the Eagles would add him. Another cheap option would be to bring back Tony Hunt, who was released last October by the Eagles but is a player that has experience in the offense.

It’ll be interesting to see if the team makes this news about Westbrook official.

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Vikings’ Williams Wall and Saints’ Grant and Smith expected to be suspended four games

According to a report by Yahoo Sports, a federal judge has ruled that the NFL can suspend the five players that took StarCaps last season. The five players include Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of Minnesota, Charles Grant and Will Smith of New Orleans, and free agent Deuce McAllister.

A federal judge dismissed the claims of five NFL players who had been suspended last season for use of a banned diuretic in the diet supplement StarCaps. Among the five are four starting defensive linemen for the Vikings and Saints, including Pro Bowl defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams(notes) of Minnesota and starting defensive ends Charles Grant(notes) and Will Smith(notes) of New Orleans.

All four are expected to sit the first four games of next season without pay. Their suspensions had been blocked last season while U.S. district judge Paul Magnuson heard arguments from the league and the NFL Players Association.

The league had suspended the four defensive linemen and then-Saints running back Deuce McAllister(notes) last season after they tested positive for the diuretic Bumetanide, which flushes water from the body and is considered a masking agent for steroids. McAllister is currently unsigned, but also faces a four-game suspension.

This is a massive blow for the Vikings and Saints. Minnesota loses the backbone of its defense, while New Orleans loses its two best pass rushers. A four game suspension only amounts to a fourth of the season, but it’s still enough to have a ripple effect that could carry throughout the rest of the year, especially if one (or both) of the teams starts 1-3 or 0-4.

Perhaps the only good news for both teams is that they now have an entire summer and preseason to prepare for not having these players at the start of the season.

Saints considering Edgerrin James – but why?

According to a report by, the Saints are considering signing free agent running back Edgerrin James.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis told that the team is still considering making a contract offer to free-agent running back Edgerrin James.

“We’ve spent some time evaluating Edgerrin,” Loomis said Tuesday morning. “We think he can still play. We’re going to continue to evaluate that and see where it ends up. We haven’t made a decision on Edgerrin yet.”

James could be a nice fit in New Orleans, which didn’t draft or sign a replacement for the released Deuce McAllister. Loomis, though, expressed confidence that Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush could carry the Saints’ rushing load. A five-game starter last season, Thomas scored nine times and gained 625 yards on only 129 carries. Bush generated 844 yards from scrimmage in an injury-plagued 2008 campaign.

“Every time Pierre has had the opportunity to play, he’s performed really well,” Loomis said. “I think he was one of the leaders in the league in not getting tackled for a loss among running backs (in 2008). He’s not the big prototype back that Deuce was but we’re confident that Pierre can do some good things for us.

I completely disagree that James would be a good fit. I know the Saints are trying to replace McAllister, but Thomas proved last year that he deserves more carries and the team still has to make sure that Bush gets his touches as well (at least until he gets hurt).

If they want to add a bruiser for short yardage situations ala McAllister last year, then James isn’t the guy. And don’t forget that James wanted out of Arizona because he didn’t like splitting carries with Tim Hightower and feels as though he can still be a starter. Thomas has way more upside than James, so why eat into his carries?

The Saints only had one draft pick in the first three rounds this year. Had they had more, there’s a very likely chance that they would have selected a running back like Beanie Wells in the first round. Why? I’m a little confused by the Saints line of thinking here with how well Thomas played last season.

Saints release Deuce McAllister

The Saints officially released long time running back Deuce McAllister.

Deuce McAllisterThe news comes as no real surprise, though it still will come as a blow to the Saints fan base.

McAllister, who turned 30 in December, had four years remaining on his contract. But his role was greatly diminished last season after he returned from his second major knee injury in three years. And he was set to earn $5.3 million in salary and bonuses in 2009.

The Saints will save more than $4 million in salary-cap space this year now that McAllister is off the roster. His “cap figure” will decrease from $7.3 million to roughly $3 million. The way the cap works, the Saints still need to account for $3 million of his signing bonus from the eight-year, $50.1 million contract extension he signed in 2005.

The team was projected to be about $4.5 million over the $123 million salary cap heading into the start of free agency Feb. 27, so other changes could be forthcoming as well.

As the article notes, this isn’t a surprise. The Saints freed up some cap space in the move, Pierre Thomas has emerged as a feature back and is the power to Reggie Bush’s flash.

Still, McAllister will be missed and he was the model pro in New Orleans.

Fantasy Football Podcast: Week 12

Listen in as Anthony Stalter and I discuss the Chargers/Steelers debacle, Brandon Jacobs’ knee, Deuce McAllister’s possible suspension, the Tampa Bay running game, and much, much more. I’ll also throw out a few QB and RB sleepers for fantasy owners in need.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

The opening and closing music is AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock & Roll)”

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