Thursday, August 24, 2006

Buckhalter To Make Team On Production, Not Emotion

Correll Buckhalter has been one of the true feel-good stories of the Eagles training camp. By now everybody knows the injury history. Buckhalter has missed the last two seasons with a torn right patellar tendon and has been sidelined three of the past four years.
This season he has passed every test, but that doesn't mean he is finished taking final exams. In fact Buckhalter's health will be met with skepticism the entire year.
He says he doesn't worry about past injuries or being sidelined this year. All that consumes him is getting back on the field.
And he continues to make strides. Now Buckhalter will start in Friday's game at Lincoln Financial Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Brian Westbrook likely out the rest of the preseason, the Eagles are still searching for a No. 2 back.
And knowing Westbrook's injury history, that No. 2 spot is vital for the Eagles. Buckhalter ran hard but he did gain just eight yards on five carries in the Birds' 20-10 loss at Baltimore to the Ravens. He also had a 48-yard reception that set up a touchdown.
Now that he has shown he can take a hit, the Eagles will be looking for a little elusiveness against the Steelers.
In his mind, Buckhalter believes he is back. It would make a great story if he emerges as the No. 2 back. Based on his injury history, the Eagles would have to believe without a reasonable doubt that he can handle the No. 2 spot.
For now he's doing and saying all the right things. Buckhalter knows there will continue to be skeptics out there and he doesn't care.
"I know what I can do," he said.
He doesn't care what others say. Buckhalter is preparing to make a significant contribution to the team. Nobody wants to see this happen more than his teammates who admire his grit and determination.
Still, this is a decision that has to be made with the head and not the heart. And that's why Buckhalter will be closely monitored against the Steelers. Merely surviving injury isn't enough. Buckhalter will be evaluated on his production. And when all the emotion is taken out of things, this is the way it should be.