Recovered from concussion, LeSean McCoy will start for Eagles
Jeff McLane, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012, 2:20 AM
For who? For what?
Asked why he would play in Sunday's otherwise meaningless game after missing four games with a concussion, LeSean McCoy answered his own question with what he surely thought was a rhetorical
"Why would I want to play?" he said. "Why wouldn't I want to play?"
Many Eagles fans, of course, would answer this way: So you don't get hurt again or suffer a potential career-ending injury. But McCoy will start when the Eagles host the Washington Redskins, coach Andy Reid said Wednesday.
Reid said that McCoy would not have his "normal workload," however, and that Bryce Brown and Dion Lewis would rotate in at running back. But the message from the coach was clear, even if the Eagles have long been eliminated from playoff contention and Reid's days here are numbered.
"We're all part of the team. It's not a hierarchy that way," Reid said. "That's not how it works. If you're healthy, you play. LeSean understands that, our team understands that, and so that's how you go about business. LeSean wouldn't want it any other way."
Reid had a similar take on his decision to keep McCoy in the game late in the first meeting with the Redskins on Nov. 18. The tailback suffered a concussion when the Eagles trailed by 25 points with less than two minutes to play, but Reid said he had an obligation to the team and to the player, who wanted to stay in, to play full-throttle until the end.
"I don't live like that - to just take off," McCoy said. "Just like the play when I got hurt: People blame Coach for it, but I wanted to be in there. I'm a competitor. So I'm going to finish the season out if I'm healthy."
For those who remember the regrettable words - For who? For what? - that former running back Ricky Watters uttered in 1995 after he short-armed a pass, McCoy's response was refreshing.
Watters went on to prove his mettle for the Eagles over the next three seasons. McCoy, who grew up in Harrisburg like Watters, plays with as much toughness. He was incredulous when a reporter asked why he would return.
"They pay me to play this game," McCoy said. "I love this game. So why wouldn't I play?"
Sunday will offer the first opportunity to see how McCoy plays alongside Brown since the rookie broke out against the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys in his first two starts. Brown has been kept in check the last two games, and his fumbling remains an issue, but the idea of a two-back system next season is intriguing.
They could split carries against the Redskins because McCoy is returning from what he said was the first concussion of his career.
"He's coming off an injury. I understand that, so I'll keep a close eye on him," Reid said. "He'll work in as a starter and then Bryce has some valuable experience that he's gained over the last few weeks, so we'll get him in there."
McCoy participated Wednesday in his first full practice since his injury. He said he felt rusty. He split repetitions with Brown. McCoy said he did not think splitting time with the rookie Sunday - or any time afterward - would be an adjustment.
"I don't think a lot has changed," McCoy said. "We rotated even before he had the two big games. I don't think it's a big difference."
Fullback Stanley Havili (hamstring) was the only Eagle to miss practice. He is not expected to be ready by Sunday. Reid said that running back Chris Polk would start in his place and that Emil Igwenagu, who played a hybrid fullback-tight end role last week, could fill in. . . . Igwenagu also will back up tight end Brent Celek, who is returning after missing a game with a concussion. Tight end Clay Harbor was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday with a back injury. Harbor said he broke three small bones in his lower back. . . . The Eagles are bringing in tight end Evan Moore for a physical Thursday. If he passes, he will take Harbor's spot on the 53-man roster. . . . Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was limited because of a back injury.
Contact Jeff McLane at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.
Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:25 AM