A lot can change in two years. Way back in 2007, Brian Westbrook and LaDainian Tomlinson were the two most feared running backs in the NFL. Each was a dual threat stud capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Defensive coordinators needed anxiety drugs when preparing to face these elite playmakers.
Flash forward to present day and each player is a shadow of their former selves. Age and mounting injuries have taken their toll. Neither is considered the very best at their position anymore. Football enthusiasts no longer wonder how many yards and touchdowns they will compile. Instead, the buzz has turned to whether or not either will be able to play each week.
Westbrook has already missed three games this season due to a nagging ankle and a bad concussion. Tomlinson has sat out two games and is currently nursing a bum hip. Westbrook’s 4.8 yard per carry average is deceiving; he only has 41 rush attempts. Tomlinson’s 3.2 yards per carry is the lowest of his career and he’s on pace to catch less than 30 passes, which would also be a career low.
Both stars are losing ground to younger backs. Darren Sproles and Shady McCoy are getting more looks as the season progresses. Tomlinson, one of the best goal line backs in NFL history, is being replaced by the 5’5″, 185-pound Sproles in the red zone. Westbrook, one of the most versatile backs in NFL history, is seeing the shifty McCoy lined up all over the formation.
It just won’t be the same watching these two on Sunday. That is, if either plays. Right now, both are question marks. It’s football, guys get old and worn down. I get it. But it still sucks when two dynamic players reach the end at the same time. Maybe they will regain their youth for one week and conjure memories of their past greatness. It probably won’t happen, but one can hope.