Reid hopeful running back can go

Updated: October 28, 2004, 1:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Brian Westbrook has a cracked rib, discomfort and trouble sleeping.

While Philadelphia coach Andy Reid remained hopeful Westbrook, the Eagles' leading rusher, can play Sunday against Baltimore, a source close to the Eagles tells ESPN it is "highly unlikely" that Westbrook will play this weekend against the Ravens.

Brian Westbrook
Running Back
Philadelphia Eagles
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
90 458 1 31 249 0

Westbrook was listed as questionable and did not practice Wednesday.

"He'll be fine as time goes on and hopefully he can make it this week," Reid said. "If he can't, then he'll be back the following week."

Eagles head trainer Rick Burkholder said the rib injury didn't show up on the first X-ray, but more tests revealed a small crack of the first rib. The normal recovery time for that kind of injury is four to six weeks, but Westbrook won't necessarily be out that long, Burkholder said.

Westbrook was hurt in the fourth quarter of the Eagles' 34-31 overtime victory against Cleveland. He leads the Eagles with 458 yards rushing. He also has 31 catches for 249 yards.

Burkholder said the Eagles ran more tests on Westbrook after he complained of discomfort and trouble sleeping. Burkholder said he didn't know when Westbrook would play again.

"He's got to be able to function," Burkholder said. "He has a high tolerance for pain. He plays running back in the National Football League. But he has to be able to function. He has to be able to get comfortable enough to get out and practice and then the coaches need to make a decision whether or not he can function."

The Eagles, already thin at running back after Correll Buckhalter went down with a season-ending injury in the preseason, will start Dorsey Levens against the Ravens. Seldom-used Reno Mahe also will get some carries and rookie fullback Thomas Tapeh will likely be activated.

"We're not going to change the offense," Reid said. "We'll keep doing what we do."

Neither Levens nor Westbrook was available in the locker room for comment Wednesday.

Burkholder said Westbrook also has a muscle strain, but would not compare the injury to a similar one suffered by Donovan McNabb in the NFC title game.

Teams keyed in more on Westbrook after last year's breakout season when he scored 13 touchdowns. He has only one this season, with two 100-yard games.

"It's tough anytime you lose a guy like Westbrook," McNabb said. "He's one of our added weapons and a guy that's made such an impact this year running the ball, as well as catching the ball out of the backfield. He's just continued to improve every time he's out there."

A dangerous special teams player who returned two punts for TDs last year, Westbrook wasn't being used as a returner to avoid risking an injury. He missed one regular-season game last year with an ankle injury and sat out the playoffs with a torn triceps. He also missed his sophomore season at Villanova with a knee injury, but still set an NCAA record with 9,885 all-purpose yards.

Levens and Mahe did make some clutch plays in overtime against the Browns, with Levens picking up 40 yards on five carries and Mahe catching two passes for 18 yards.