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Buckhalter tears patella tendon in right knee

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter will miss the season after tearing the patella tendon in
his right knee in the first quarter of Philadelphia's preseason
game against the Baltimore Ravens on Friday night.

Buckhalter will have to undergo season-ending surgery after an MRI on Saturday confirmed the tear in his right knee.

The fourth-year pro sat out the 2002 season after tearing the
anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in minicamp. The
Eagles were counting on Buckhalter and third-year pro
Brian Westbrook to share the running duties after Duce Staley signed with
Pittsburgh in the offseason.

Buckhalter collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain after a
2-yard gain. He left the field on a cart and X-rays revealed the
torn patella tendon.

A fourth-round pick from Nebraska in 2001, Buckhalter had 586
yards rushing and averaged 4.5 yards a carry that season. He ran
for 542 yards and eight TDs last year.

"It's very tough," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "Other
guys have to step up."

The trio of Westbrook, Staley and Buckhalter produced 1,818
yards rushing, 83 catches and 27 touchdowns (20 rushing, seven
receiving) last season.

The Eagles lost rookie seventh-round pick Bruce Perry to a
season-ending shoulder injury in the preseason opener, leaving
second-year pro Reno Mahe as Westbrook's backup.

The speedy Westbrook had 613 yards rushing and seven TDs last
season. But his durability is a concern because of his size --
Westbrook is listed at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds. He missed one game
with an ankle injury and sat out the playoffs with a torn triceps.

Last year, Buckhalter showed flashes of his rookie form in
training camp and was primed for a breakout year. But then the
season started and Buckhalter ran just once in the season opener
against Tampa Bay and didn't see the ball the following week
against New England.

The rest of his season was just as erratic. He had 100 yards
against the Giants, then followed that with a 92-yard effort at
Atlanta. But he had only 73 yards combined in the next four games
before running for 115 in week 14 against Dallas.

Two weeks later against San Francisco, Buckhalter was
deactivated for missing a team meeting and arriving late for a
walkthrough practice. He ran 33 times for 114 yards in the last
three games, including playoffs.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.