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American Football: Eagles Buckhalter out for the year

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posted on Aug, 21 2004 @ 08:59 AM
Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter probably 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.

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.

"I'm 99 percent sure he's going to have surgery and be done," Eagles coach Andy Reid said, adding that Buckhalter will have an MRI on Saturday.

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.


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