Starting tailback Brian Westbrook, who suffered an apparent season-ending injury to his right foot in Monday's shutout loss to the Seattle Seahawks, might not require surgery to repair the Lisfranc sprain, Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid said on Friday.
"There's a good chance that he doesn't need surgery," Reid said. "That's the positive of this thing. Right now, most likely, that will be the case."
If Westbrook is unable to avoid surgery, it might speed his recovery from the foot injury, although that it is not assured. Even without the surgery, rehabilitation from a Lisfranc sprain is typically a lengthy process, and there is some concern that Westbrook might not be fully recovered at the outset of next season.
The four-year veteran will be re-examined next week by Baltimore-based foot specialist Dr. Mark Myerson, the orthopedist who treated Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens last season, and the team hopes to have a better determination then as to the prognosis for their star tailback. Although it was announced earlier this week that Westbrook would miss the final four games of the season, and that probably is the case, the Eagles have not yet placed him on the injured reserve list.
It is unlikely Philadelphia will move Westbrook onto injured reserve before Myerson re-examines his right foot, which was injured in the loss to the Seahawks. Realistically, there is little chance that Westbrook will play again in 2005, but the Eagles are not in a hurry to officially end his season.
Westbrook, who last month signed a five-year contract extension through 2010, a deal worth just under $25 million and including $9 million in bonuses, has rushed for 617 yards and three touchdowns on 156 carries, while starting all 12 games. He also has 61 catches, tied with LaMont Jordan of Oakland for the most among NFL running backs, for 616 yards and four touchdowns.
He was injured on the Eagles' first possession Monday, after catching a 10-yard pass, and then being driven out of bounds. He returned briefly to the game but then went to the locker room for X-rays. An MRI examination the next day revealed the Lisfranc sprain, and now the Eagles will wait until next week to see that the re-check of his foot indicates.
"If he can stay away from surgery," Reid said, "that's a huge thing."
But not always in the case of Lisfranc injuries. Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins had a similar injury in 2003 and avoided surgery, but missed nine games, and acknowledged this week that it took him nearly two years to regain his full quickness and to have his foot feel completely healed. Eagles tight end Chad Lewis, who suffered a Lisfranc injury in the 2004 NFC championship game, underwent surgery and was not able to return to the field until just a few weeks ago.
"Every person is different," Lewis said. "Each injury of the Lisfranc stands alone."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.