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With Westbrook nursing knee, Moats could get more chances

| Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Ryan Moats spent most of practice this week emulating Tiki Barber. Against the Giants, Moats might have to mimic Brian Westbrook.

Being himself sure hasn't helped Moats get carries out of the backfield for Philadelphia.

With Westbrook probable for Sunday's game because of swelling in his knee, Moats could be in line for some carries. Even one carry would be more than he got in the opener against Houston, when he was relegated to special teams. All Moats can do -- other than act like the opposing running back -- is take "mental snaps" to prepare and learn the offense.

"I'm not sitting back there with my head in the sky," Moats said Friday. "I have to always know everything they know. I'm right in the plays."

Moats and backup Correll Buckhalter will carry the load if Westbrook's knee, which forced him to miss Friday's practice, is still too shaky for him to be counted on. Coach Andy Reid didn't sound like Westbrook's availability was too much of a worry, however.

"He'll be fine," Reid said. "It's all stuff he has had before."

In Philadelphia's season-opening 24-10 victory at Houston, the versatile Westbrook ran 17 times for 71 yards, caught four passes for 61 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown reception, and returned three punts for 25 yards while fair-catching two others.

While Westbrook's injury appears minor, it's another knock against him that he simply can't stay healthy. He missed an entire season in college with a torn ACL, and has sat out eight games in the NFL with various injuries.

"He plays one of those positions where you get nicked up a little bit," Reid said. "I think you look around the league and you see running backs getting hurt quite often. It's one of those positions. He'll work through it here."

Moats showed promise late last year after Westbrook went down with a season-ending injury. He rushed for 278 yards, and his best game of the season was against the Giants, rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

Trying to build off that promising finish, Moats instead was sidelined by a sprained knee in the first week of training camp. With Westbrook established as the No. 1 back and Buckhalter recovered from injuries that cost him the last two seasons, Moats was buried on the depth chart.

"That's kind of how it is when you've got a lot of good backs around you," Moats said. "You just have to wait your turn."

The fact that Westbrook and Buckhalter are so injury prone means Moats could end up pretty valuable now that he seems to have a better grasp of the offense.

"No, it's not hard to be patient," Moats said. "I try to take this time to keep getting better. I know when I get out there, I want to be ready. Time is not a bad thing."

Notes: PR/RB Reno Mahe (ankle) did practice and was questionable for Sunday. Mahe said he was a gametime decision. ... CB Lito Sheppard (ankle) is out against the Giants. Additional Information:

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