Westbrook on comeback trail

Bryant Westbrook</A> has all kinds of challenges in front of him this off-season and is determined to meet every one of them. The defensive back is not about to allow a second Achilles' tendon injury get in his way, either.<p>

Westbrook was in line to start as the Packers' strong safety during training camp last year but his season ended quickly when he ruptured his right Achilles' tendon in Green Bay's second preseason game, Aug. 9 at Atlanta. He also suffered a torn left Achilles' tendon in November 2000 when he was playing for the Detroit Lions.

The Packers quickly put Westbrook on season injured reserve and he contemplated retiring from football, but he didn't want to leave the game because of an injury, like so many have before him.

That's not the type of guy I am," said Westbrook. "I've never been a quitter. I'm a success story. I want NFL Comeback Player of the Year. That's all I want. Two Achilles? C'mon, man."

Westbrook has remained in Green Bay this off-season rehabbing his most recent leg injury. It usually takes about a year to recover from a torn Achilles, but he feels he can be ready by the early part of training camp in late July.

Westbrook signed as a free agent with the Packers in 2002 to provide depth in the secondary after injuries to Mike McKenzie (groin) and Bhawoh Jue (hamstring). Last year in training camp, he was moved from cornerback to safety and was on the verge of winning the starting spot opposite Darren Sharper until suffering the injury in an exhibition game against the Falcons.

"I was just coming into my own," said Westbrook, the fifth overall player taken in the 1997 NFL Draft by Detroit. "I was feeling real comfortable at safety. My name was popping up. I was starting to play and maybe start at safety. It was frustrating, but things like that happen. You've got to take the good with the good and the bad with the bad. I'm just fighting now. I'm a fighter. I keep going."

Westbrook will be focusing strictly on the strong safety position when training camp opens this year, but he'll have more competition, including free agent pickup Mark Roman. Roman is expected to start next to Sharper this season. Marques Anderson is the incumbent starting strong safety.


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