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Buckhalter's agony.

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9899199454.jpg Correll Buckhalter grimaces in pain after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. AKIRA SUWA / Inquirer

This is not the way I want to beat the Eagles, not with injuries to their key players before the season even starts. No, I want our top 50 to beat and utterly humiliate their top 50 on the field of combat, so that there will be no doubt who the better team is.

Buckhalter's a warrior, I hope he has a full recovery and comes back to play for them next year.

Football is an honorable but brutal game.


NOTE:They're trying Kalu at linebacker. He only had 3 sacks last year as a pass rushing DE.

Buckhalter likely lost for year

On the first day of minicamp, the Eagles running back tore the ACL in his left knee while making a cut on a natural grass surface.

By Phil Sheridan

Inquirer Staff Writer

The Eagles' running back situation, a source of friction throughout this off-season, took an abrupt, unexpected turn yesterday on the first day of Eagles minicamp.

Correll Buckhalter, who set the team's rookie rushing record last year, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Buckhalter will require surgery and is likely to miss the entire 2002 season.

Duce Staley, who complained about losing playing time to Buckhalter, was the first person to reach his teammate's side. The moment Buckhalter went down, Staley sprinted from his spot behind the line of scrimmage.

"I was just encouraging him," Staley said, "telling him things will be OK. He'll be able to fight through it."

Buckhalter, 23, was running a pass route during the first practice of this weekend's minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. He made a cut on the natural grass playing surface, and his left knee buckled. An MRI exam at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania revealed the tear.

"It's not good," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "We're lucky enough where we have Duce here and these young running backs. What could be a disaster isn't, because of the depth that we have there."

The Eagles selected Villanova's Brian Westbrook in the third round of last weekend's draft. They also have Brian Mitchell, who has played primarily as a return man, and Rod Smart.

Reid said he would meet with personnel director Tom Heckert to discuss adding a back. The available pool of unsigned running backs includes former Eagle Ricky Watters, who is now 33, former Green Bay Packer Dorsey Levens, Skip Hicks, Ki-Jana Carter, Tim Biakabutuka, Terry Allen and Ben Gay, who was released by Cleveland this week.

Reid is unlikely to add a player who would create more tension for Staley. The head coach met with Staley on Thursday and the two cleared the air.

"It's over," Staley said. "It's behind us. I'm with the team. It's time to move forward and get that ultimate goal, which is to win a championship. We had a great talk. I understand his position and he understands mine.

"So, we kind of remarried the situation, so it's over."

Staley was unhappy because of the amount of playing time Buckhalter got last season as a rookie. Staley was coming off a foot injury that ended his 2000 season after five games. He injured his shoulder in the second game of the 2001 season, opening the door for Buckhalter.

Reid used both backs throughout the season and the playoffs. Buckhalter finished with 586 rushing yards, nine more than Keith Byars' 1986 rookie record. Buckhalter had 50 rushing yards in the NFC championship game before spraining his ankle in the second quarter and being forced to leave the game.

Staley, meanwhile, emerged as more of a receiver than runner. He had 626 yards on 63 receptions, and 604 yards rushing.

Early in the off-season, Staley expressed his concerns in a letter to Reid. A week later, the Eagles brought free-agent running back Warrick Dunn in for a visit. Dunn wound up signing with Atlanta, but it was clear that Staley would have been the odd man out if the Eagles had signed Dunn.

"There were a few chains of events," Staley said. "You have to understand it's a business. I understand that. That's something I had to tell myself from the beginning. When you start to let emotions get involved, other thoughts start to come into your head.

"At the beginning of my career, I saw a lot of players go through a lot of different things. I remember being young and thinking, I hope I never have to go through that. But here I am now."

After selecting Villanova's Westbrook, Reid took pains to say, "Duce is still the man." With Buckhalter injured, that's more true than ever.

"I accept whatever role," Staley said. "Whether it's third downs or whatever. I'm not concerned."

Camp notes. Four players who were injured last season did not participate in practice yesterday: Smart (foot), defensive tackle Hollis Thomas (foot), linebacker Ike Reese (foot) and newly signed linebacker Shawn Barber (knee).

Blaine Bishop, who is coming off a foot sprain, was able to practice. Bishop lined up as the starting strong safety, alongside free safety Brian Dawkins.

Moving around. N.D. Kalu, who played defensive end last year, is getting a look at strongside linebacker.

"It's a little overwhelming," Kalu said. "There's so much to learn, I'm not sure whether I like it or not yet. We'll see, I guess."

Justin Ena, the rookie free agent from BYU, also worked as strongside linebacker. Ena was an inside linebacker the last two years, but said he played on the outside as a freshman and sophomore.

Numbers game. First-round pick Lito Sheppard is wearing No. 26, while second-round safety Michael Lewis has No. 32.

Tyreo Harrison, the sixth-round pick from Notre Dame, is wearing Jeremiah Trotter's old No. 54. But Shawn Barber (No. 56) has Trotter's old locker.

Other new names and numbers: Westbrook (36), Bishop (24), Sheldon Brown (39), Scott Peters (62).

Hoffman in camp. Penn quarterback Gavin Hoffman is in camp as a non-roster player. With Tim Hasselbeck in NFL Europe, the Eagles needed an extra QB to run drills.

Hoffman, who is listed as 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, broke virtually all of Penn's passing records after transferring from Northwestern in 1999. He was the Ivy League MVP in 2000.

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Originally posted by BallCoachSpurrier

NOTE:They're trying Kalu at linebacker. He only had 3 sacks last year as a pass rushing DE.

This just in . . . :rolleyes: We could have told them that a year ago.

I agree about Buckhalter. Despite my other thread, I never root for opposing teams' players to get injured.

I think we're all just noting the fact that the consensus division favorite's starting RB has gone down and has placed their offense in a very difficult spot.

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Originally posted by redman

I agree about Buckhalter. Despite my other thread, I never root for opposing teams' players to get injured.

Yeah, I'd agree with that. You hate to see a kid possibly lose out on something he's worked for his entire life because of a stupid practice in April.

I hope players get injured in a way that prevents them from playing against US, but then I hope they get healthy again when they play against other teams. Like, when Aikman was put away by Arrington, on one hand, I was glad he was out of the lineup. But I also had a Theisman flashback, and felt it was a shame that a great player couldn't go out on his own terms. I'm no Jerry Rice fan, but I wouldn't feel good about Jerry ripping up his knee, even if it meant that we'd win the game.

Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age. Hey!!! Look at my belly!!! I AM soft!!!

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Looks like it was on natural turf... he made a cut and *pop*. Hate to hear that happen to any player.

Kalu is being tried out at Strong Side LB... they probably want to use his speed to cover the TE, or to use him in thier blitz packages. No way could they think he could go from end to MLB.

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