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SI : Westbrook Frustrated!


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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Brian Westbrook wants more carries and more money.

Already frustrated by his contract situation, the Pro Bowl running back isn't happy with his role in the Philadelphia Eagles' offense. Westbrook has just 55 carries in the first five games, an average of only 11 rushes per game.

Asked on Wednesday if he could be the best running back in the NFL, Westbrook replied: "If I was used properly."

The Eagles are last in the league with averages of 64.2 yards rushing and 17.6 attempts per game. They're first in passing with an average of 307.2 yards.

"It's not that we can't run the ball. We don't run it," Westbrook said. "We should be able to run the ball with the quality offensive line we have. I go into every game wanting to run the ball. When the plays come into the huddle, I go from there. I don't go to Coach (Andy) Reid and say we should run the ball. I think Coach Reid is a very good coach. He sees the flow of the game. If he feels we need to run the ball, he'll do it."

Philly's running backs -- Westbrook, Lamar Gordon and Reno Mahe _ have 76 carries of the season's 312 total plays. That's an average of just 24.3 percent, down from 32.8 percent last season.

Quarterback Donovan McNabb has thrown 45 or more passes in three games while playing through a sports hernia, chest and shin injuries.

"If a team is throwing the ball 52, 48 times a game and running it 12 times, if I were a defense, I'd be pinning my ears back," Westbrook said.

The Eagles had to rely on the pass in the last two games because they fell behind 17-0 both times. However, in the 37-31 comeback victory over Kansas City on Oct. 2, Reid stayed with the pass even after the Eagles took a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

They had no chance to establish a running game in the 33-10 loss to Dallas the following week.

"We need to do a better job," Reid said.

Westbrook had a breakout year last season with 812 yards rushing and 73 catches for 703 yards in 13 games. He has more yards receiving (292) on 25 catches than rushing (231) this season.

The fourth-year pro from Villanova held out the first week of training camp to protest his contract situation. He's been seeking a long-term deal after signing a one-year restricted free agent offer for $1.43 million, but cut off talks with the team last month because he wasn't pleased with the progress of the discussions.

Westbrook denied a report the Eagles have made a new offer, but said he's willing to listen.

"I would talk to them if things were going in the right direction," he said.

If Westbrook doesn't sign an extension this year, he'll be an unrestricted free agent after the season. However, the Eagles could place a franchise tag on him, making it difficult for Westbrook to sign with another team.

The franchise rule allows teams to keep one player off the free-agent market in exchange for a one-year tender worth the average of the top five players at his position. If a player doesn't sign, the only way he can leave is if another team is willing to part with two first-round draft picks.

Westbrook said he isn't going to base his decision to return to Philadelphia solely on the amount of touches he gets.

"A lot of things will affect my decision," he said.

A dangerous returner, Westbrook hasn't been used in that role the last two seasons because he's too valuable to risk an injury on special teams. But Westbrook and All-Pro cornerback Lito Sheppard have been handling some punts in practice this week, and either one could be used against San Diego this week.

"It's another opportunity to touch the ball," Westbrook said, wishing he'd get more chances in the backfield.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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Wow. I see Westbrook having a fantastic season so far. I can see where he wants more money, but he's never been a greatly effective "running" back. His specialty (and it's a GOOD one) has been catching passes and taking it from there. I know defenses will obviously get hip to a nearly all passing game and the Eagles should change that but as far as Brian being unhappy with his season so far, I don't get it. The guy is awesome.

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