Friday, August 28, 2009

The New Buck

For the past eight years, we've grown accustomed to having Correll Buckhalter (when he wasn't hurt) around to help spell Duce Staley and Brian Westbrook for the Eagles. Of course, this offseason, Buck joined Brian Dawkins in Denver, exercising his right as a free agent to go where he saw fit.

But even with Correll's departure to the mile high city, the Eagles won't be without a Buck in the backfield this season. At least, not if I'm the one making cuts. And by all indications, Eldra Buckley, the first-year running back out of Tennessee-Chattanooga, looks to be firmly planted as the third-string tailback for the 2009 Philadelphia Eagles. So long, Lorenzo Booker. You were a complete and utter waste of the draft pick the Birds traded for you.

Right now, Buckley is still listed behind Booker on the Eagles' depth chart, but simply from watching preseason, I'd be shocked if Booker made it over Eldra. The new Buck had an excellent first game against New England, scoring both a rushing and receiving touchdown, and making his mark to fit in the Eagles' system, catching 6 balls for 56 yards.

His second game was more of a struggle, just as it was for the Eagles as a whole. He fumbled and really didn't do much with the ball. Then again, Booker didn't much either. And last night, with the starters playing through the third quarter, Eldra didn't get on the field much and was limited to just six touches. But he has clearly won favor with the team over Booker, because Lorenzo didn't even see the field last night.

And there's good reason for Buckley to make the team over Booker. For starters, he's a north-south runner, even with his small stature, that complements the styles of Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy very well. While Booker essentially has the skill set to do what Westbrook and McCoy do, albeit much, much worse than they do it, Buckley brings something different to the table. He's physical and fearless, and the guy runs hard. In three preseason games with limited touches, he's already shown me more than Booker has all of last year and so far this preseason.

Add on top of that Buckley's ability to play special teams, and this is a no-brainer. Last night, late in the game, Eldra flew down the field on a kickoff and made a big initial hit. He didn't wrap, but he stayed with it and made the tackle about a half yard from where he made first contact. And he looked completely natural on special teams, just as he has all preseason. That's something Booker simply can't offer this team, and when you're the third guy behind the superstar talent of Brian Westbrook and the undeniable potential of LeSean McCoy, you better be able to play some special teams.

That give Eldra Buckley the edge, and he has one more preseason game to nail down the spot, if he hasn't already. I certainly hope he does, because I really like the way this guy works. He gives it his all every down, and frankly, he looks like a football player. Plus, it just wouldn't feel like an Andy Reid football team without a Buck in the backfield.

BallHype: hype it up!

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