Westbrook still wants long-term deal

Updated: August 9, 2005, 1:56 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- While one key to the Philadelphia Eagles' offense made his training camp debut Monday, another was absent for the third time in four days.

Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook ended his weeklong holdout and practiced with the team for the first time Monday at Lehigh University. But All-Pro receiver Terrell Owens was sidelined after reinjuring his left groin Sunday, an injury initially sustained last Thursday.

Brian Westbrook
Running Back
Philadelphia Eagles
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
177 812 3 73 703 6

Westbrook, who did not speak to reporters, had been holding out for a long-term contract after signing a one-year restricted free agent offer for $1.43 million.

"I did have a visit with him and it went well," Eagles coach Andy Reid said after practice. "We mainly talked about football. He was anxious to get back out here and get himself going and playing and catching up on the things that he missed. But he did a good job today."

Westbrook had little choice but to report for camp by Monday because he risked forfeiting a year of service if he stayed out any longer. Then he would have been unable to become an unrestricted free agent next season -- possibly missing out on a big payday.

The fourth-year pro last season led all NFL running backs with 73 catches for 703 yards and six touchdowns while adding 812 yards and three scores on the ground.

Early Sunday night, a source close to the situation told the Philadelphia Daily News that Westbrook and his agent, Fletcher Smith, were to meet last night in Philadelphia to discuss Westbrook's next move. However, Smith's original flight from Chicago was canceled and he arrived in Philadelphia much later than anticipated, and so he and Westbrook did not meet before the running back reported to the Eagles at Lehigh University, the paper said.

Smith told the paper late Sunday night that Westbrook would like to work out a new deal "as soon as possible."

Because Westbrook is under contract, he has been fined $6,000 by the Eagles for each day of workouts he has missed, for a total of $42,000.

An Eagles source told the paper the team would not resume negotiatiosns immediately -- so as not to appear to reward a holdout. However, the team had offered to Westbrook, during previous talks, a $9 million signing bonus and more than $12 million over the first three years of a five-year deal, the Daily News reported.

The Eagles hope Westbrook will be spurred toward accepting that offer by the reported five-year, $21.1 million deal third-year running back Domanick Davis agreed to with the Houston Texans over the weekend.

"Domanick, LaMont Jordan, Rudi Johnson, all the running backs who got deals recently. They're all going to be benchmarks for Brian's deal," Smith told the paper Sunday night.

Johnson signed a reported 5-year, $26 million contract with the Bengals in the offseason, which included $12 million in bonus money, according to the Daily News.

"It's very big anytime you have all your guys here," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "You're able to work on different things. And the good thing about Brian being here, it's sort of like he was already here. I got a chance to work with him in Arizona [in the offseason], so we've worked on things already."

Westbrook worked extensively with the first-team offense Monday, getting more work than Reid hoped for due to a depleted backfield. With Correll Buckhalter and Bruce Perry already out with injuries, rookie third-round pick Ryan Moats suffered a concussion during practice, leaving Westbrook and Reno Mahe as the only backs available.

"He probably got a little more work than I necessarily wanted him to get today, but he battled through it and did a good job," Reid said. "He didn't look too far behind. He did pretty good with what we gave him."

As for Westbrook's contract, Reid said Eagles president Joe Banner and Fletcher Smith, Westbrook's agent, will resume talks on securing a long-term deal for the running back.

"Brian's a guy that we all would like to have a long-term contract with," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Monday. "He wants to stay. We want him to stay. It's just about finding the right value. I don't see why that couldn't happen, but you never know."

Meanwhile, Owens missed his third practice in four days after he suffered inflammation in his left groin. His status is unknown for Tuesday.

"It felt good yesterday," Reid said. "Toward the end it started to get a little tight on him in the second practice. It's the same as it was the day before. We got to go back to the drawing board here, see how he does today, and then within the next couple days we will see how he's feeling."

Beginning the second year of a seven-year deal worth just under $49 million, the disgruntled Owens is still hoping the Eagles will renegotiate his contract. Last season, Owens had 77 receptions for 1,200 yards and a franchise-record 14 touchdowns before severely injuring his ankle late in the season. He missed the final two regular-season games and the first two playoff games before returning for the Super Bowl, in which he had nine receptions for 122 yards.

Philadelphia also placed receiver Todd Pinkston on injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon. Pinkston was hurt Friday while running a route. He caught 36 passes for 676 yards and one touchdown last season as the team's third option behind Terrell Owens and Westbrook.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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