Redskins' Westbrook Benched, Fined
Nov. 01, 1998
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) _ Washington Redskins receiver Michael Westbrook, a troubled player on a troubled team, was benched for Sunday's game against the New York Giants for missing a practice.
Westbrook also was fined for what coach Norv Turner called the receiver's ``unexcused absence'' from Saturday's team meetings and walk-through practice at Redskin Park. The amount of the fine was not disclosed.
Westbrook was unhappy with Turner's decision, telling The Washington Post that he ``was on the floor vomiting'' Saturday morning and couldn't reach anyone at Redskin Park. When he finally did, Westbrook said he was told to turn around and go home.
``I was so sick, I can't tell you,'' Westbrook said. ``I realized I was being late. As soon as I stopped throwing up, I got into the truck and I started calling out there to tell somebody I was on the way.
``I'm trying to change people's perceptions of me. I really want to play. I'm ticked off. ... I really want to play.''
Those are Westbrook's first public comments in more than a year. He had not given an interview since he beat up teammate Stephen Davis on the sideline during a practice before the final exhibition game in August 1997.
Westbrook was fined $50,000 for the attack on Davis, one of several low points in a career that seemed so full of promise when he was chosen as the fourth player overall in the 1995 draft.
Though blessed with raw talent, Westbrook has been criticized by coaches for his lax approach to practice and offseason workouts and has also been plagued by knee injuries and a recurring leg infection.
Westbrook caught exactly 34 passes in each of his first three seasons. This year, he has 28 catches for 538 yards _ including a stretch of three consecutive 100-yard games _ but coaches say he still has problems lining up in the right spot and running the correct patterns.
Last year, Westbrook's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in overtime against the Giants cost the Redskins vital field position in a game with playoff implications. The game ended in a tie.
Westbrook's benching is just the latest blow for the Redskins, who camne into the game 0-7 and off to their worst start in 37 years. Dana Stubblefield also was inactive Sunday's game after twisting his knee on some stairs at his home during the bye week.
Stubblefield's backup, Marc Boutte, sprained his ankle during a bye-week practice, and rookie tight end Stephen Alexander hurt his shoulder diving for a pass during Friday's workout.