Eagles hoping former Seahawk Leonard Weaver is an upgrade at fullback

SPORT NFL FOOTBALLThe Eagles are hoping Leonard Weaver is the answer to their short-yardage woes.

A team that couldn’t pick up a yard near the goal line in a loss to Chicago last season, or at midfield near the end of a defeat to the Giants, is hoping one of its least-heralded offseason acquisitions could return the biggest dividends

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“I already told the guys we’ll be good in short-yardage (situations),” Weaver said on Wednesday after the team finished a morning workout as part of an organized team activity. “We’re going to go north and south, none of that east-west stuff.”

The 6-foot, 250-pound Weaver is an old school fullback. He’s built to knock defensive lineman and linebackers off the ball and open holes for veteran running back Brian Westbrook and rookie LeSean McCoy.

Those third-and-1 plays should be converted more often this year.

“He’s excellent, an excellent football player,” Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “He’s fitting in beautifully. The terminology hasn’t even been an issue, he’s getting our offense down fairly simple.”

That’s because the offense Weaver played in under head coach Mike Holmgren in Seattle isn’t much different from the one he’s learning with the Eagles.

“It’s almost exactly the same,” Weaver said. “That’s made it easy for me to jump right in and be ready to go.”

Weaver wanted to stay in Seattle, but Holmgren retired and the Seahawks had different ideas and never came to him with a valid offer.

“It was tough,” he said. “It’s the only team I’ve ever played for and I loved Seattle. It’s just like Brian Dawkins here. I’m sure if the Eagles would have made him a good offer he would have stayed. That’s just how it goes.”

Once he realized he wasn’t going back to the Pacific Northwest, Weaver began looking for teams he felt needed a fullback. That’s when the Eagles, who last year went through three different players in training camp and then tried to convert first Tony Hunt and then Dan Klecko, came on the radar.

“I really didn’t know what they went through last season at the position,” Weaver said. “I was too busy worrying about what I was doing. Then when my agent and I made up the list they were on it.”

Still he wasn’t sure it was going to happen.

“I didn’t know if they were interested in me,” Weaver said. “I knew they had other needs to address first. When they did show interest, we got it done.”

Weaver signed a one-year deal, which will give both sides a chance to see how he fits.

Through a couple of minicamps, it looks like a good match.

“I’m loving it here,” Weaver said. “This locker room, this group of players, reminds me a lot of what I left in Seattle. There is a lot of camaraderie. I came here and made friends instantly.”

He’ll make even more once the Eagles start converting those third-and-1s.

Also on Wednesday, Westbrook remained out of practice with an ankle injury.

“I think he’s going to be fine,” Mornhinweg said. “We talked. I’m not concerned.”