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Justin Vanfulpen - LionsFans.com
SAGINAW -- Bryant Westbrook was having a Pro-Bowl season until that night in Minnesota when he wrapped up Randy Moss near the goal line, and blew out his Achilles tendon.
Until that happened, he was having a dream season in 2000, but even despite the fact that he missed the final 3 games on injured reserved, he had a career year in interceptions with 6, returning one 101 yards for a touchdown against the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving. He also had a career year in passes defended with 21, this was coming off a horrendous season in 1999 when he suffered hamstring injuries to both legs and tried to return too soon. The injuries didn't have a chance to heal fully and he was regularly burned by opposing receivers, and was forced to commit numerous pass interference penalties to stop them from scoring.
But this time, Westbrook is taking his time coming back and is looking to get back on the field when the Lions go to Green Bay September 9 -- and he says everything is going well with his rehab on his Achilles tendon.
"It's going well. I'm getting better. It is a slow process but I'm definitely getting better," said Westbrook.
Westbrook knows that injuries are a part of football, and he knows a lot of guys have come back from this type of injury. He plans on being one of them. But he is only going to return when he is fully healed from his off-season surgery.
"Injuries are a part of football and a lot of guys have come back from this kind of injury," said Westbrook. "That's the way I look at it. A lot of guys have come back and I'm going to be one of them."
"I'm going to return healthy and, when I do, everyone will know what I'm capable of. I've got to make sure that I'm all the way back. I want to come back when I'm 110 percent," said Westbrook. "I can't rush it. I have to take care of it now and not pay later. It's another hurdle to clear. I've had my share of setbacks and adversities and I got past them. I'll get past this."
Westbrook wants to get out there and play with his teammates, and he liked what he saw in the first pre-season game.
"It just seems like everyone has tapped into the scheme and believes in the scheme and looking at the first per-season game, it looks like they are really comfortable with everything and the blitz package looks wonderful," Westbrook said.
Westbrook says mentally he is all right with the scheme and the system that the Lions are putting into place on defense, but physically he just needs to stay in shape.
"I get more and more active everyday, it is definitely getting better, I'm looking forward to getting out there and playing. I can't wait until I get the opportunity to play," said Westbrook. "Right know physical I have to stay in shape."
He is not the only one that can't wait for him to be able to play, both the coaching staff and the front office would like to see him back to full strength and playing at a Pro-Bowl level. If he does, that will only mean good things for this team.