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SportsColumnistsBob Glauber

Westbrook worried about his future health

Brian Westbrook has been such a fixture for such a long time in the Giants-Eagles rivalry that it's tough to imagine not seeing him again in an Eagles uniform tearing through the Giants' defense.

From his 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown past Antonio Pierce that gave the Eagles a 20-14 win at Giants Stadium last December, to a 141-yard rushing performance in a 23-20 wild-card win in 2006, to that wondrous 84-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a stunning 14-10 win in 2003, Westbrook has been such a major factor in this epic divisional competition.

But Westbrook won't be in uniform for tonight's showdown because of lingering problems from two concussions he suffered earlier this season. And there's a good chance Westbrook will never play against the Giants again.

There's even a chance Westbrook might not play against anyone again.

The 30-year-old running back returned to practice this week for the first time since he suffered a concussion against the Chargers Nov. 15. It was his second concussion of the season; the first, against the Redskins on Oct. 26, resulted in him being knocked unconscious after he was hit in the head by Washington linebacker London Fletcher's knee.

Westbrook now openly worries about his long-term health.

"I'm more concerned about how things will happen for me in the future," he said. "How having concussions now will affect me 20, 30 years from now. I'm not scared to play the game of football, but I'm concerned that things that are happening now inside the game of football - concussions, things like that - head injuries can really affect my life as far down the road as 30, 40, 50 years old. That really concerns me."

Will he play later this season? He says that's the plan.

"That's my hope, to get back out there and play," he said. "I think all of the signs right now are aiming toward being able to play before the end of the season."

But nothing is assured.

"It's still up to the doctors and how things go out there at practice and things like that," he said. "I can't really tell right now."

The Eagles are 5-1 in Westbrook's absence, as rookie LeSean McCoy has filled in well. But there is no question the Eagles could use the speedy Westbrook, especially as they push toward the playoffs. When his return will come - check that, if his return will come - is anyone's guess.

The hope here is that Westbrook doesn't take any unnecessary risks in returning. Playing football is one thing; living the rest of your life in good health is another.


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