Buckhalter has a chance to be featured back

Updated: October 29, 2003, 9:19 AM ET
ESPN

PHILADELPHIA -- Correll Buckhalter waited 17 months to return to the field after a serious knee injury. He needed another seven weeks to prove that he's really back.

Used sparingly in four of Philadelphia's first six games, Buckhalter re-emerged Sunday, running for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 24-17 victory over the New York Jets.

Buckhalter has split time with Brian Westbrook and Duce Staley this season, getting just 29 carries for 99 yards in the first six games. But after Westbrook went down with a sprained ankle in the first half against the Jets, the Eagles turned to Buckhalter.

"I don't expect anything," Buckhalter said. "I just take my opportunities. It's not a matter of expecting anything. It's just a matter of, when you get the ball in your hands, you take advantage of it."

When the season started, Buckhalter figured to be getting most of the work. He had 856 yards rushing and averaged 4.5 yards per carry as a rookie in 2001, but missed last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team's first minicamp.

Buckhalter showed flashes of his rookie form in training camp and was primed for a breakout year. But then the season started and Buckhalter was relegated to the sideline.

He ran just once in the opener against Tampa Bay and didn't see the ball the following week against New England as the Eagles dropped to 0-2.

Buckhalter ran 11 times for 25 yards in a win over Buffalo in the third game, but carried three times in the next game. He had 52 yards rushing against Dallas in the fifth game, but again got just three carries the next week.

"It feels nice to do whatever I can to help my team win," Buckhalter said. "We have three good backs. It's kind of hard to please all three of us."

Each of the three backs adds a different dimension to Philadelphia's offense. Westbrook, the leading rusher with 323 yards, is the quickest and fastest runner. Buckhalter brings a combination of speed and power. Staley is the most sure-handed and is the best receiver of the trio.

"I think you need the three running backs," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "They're comfortable going into the game. I think it's a great situation to have."

Buckhalter's 100-yard rushing performance was the first by a Philadelphia player this season. His 15 carries were his most since he ran 20 times in the final regular-season game in 2001.

Buckhalter fumbled for the second straight week, but Reid went right back to him instead of letting him dwell on the miscue on the sidelines.

"I know that Coach Reid and the whole offense have confidence in me," Buckhalter said. "I know I'm better than that and it's something I'm going to have to correct."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index