Declaring himself ready, Brady says he can start at QB

Belichick to announce choice for starter today in this year's hot issue

Super Bowl Patriots Vs. Rams

January 30, 2002|By Jamison Hensley and Ken Murray | Jamison Hensley and Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

A day before New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was expected to announce his starting quarterback, Tom Brady indicated that he should be ready to start in the Super Bowl.

Brady has won his last seven starts but suffered a high sprain in his left ankle in Sunday's AFC championship game. Backup quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who lost his job to Brady after getting injured in September, replaced Brady and led New England to that victory.

It's presumed that Brady will start if healthy. But Belichick has said that he will make his decision today after the Patriots' first practice.

"It's the biggest game of my life," said Brady, who was named to the Pro Bowl in just his second NFL season. "I don't anticipate sitting out something like this. I'm going to do everything I can to go out there and prove that I'm ready to play."

Brady walked into yesterday's media day at the Superdome with a slight limp but showed noticeable improvement. At one point, he put all his weight on his left foot to get over a left rope that partitioned off a section of the stadium.

"It feels good," Brady said. "It feels real good."

Belichick refused to discuss his quarterback situation, which has become the hot topic of this Super Bowl.

"There is nothing really new there," he said.

Brady hasn't tested his ankle and will run on it for the first time at today's practice. New England's starting quarterback will get nearly all the reps for the rest of the week.

"I want to play as bad as I ever wanted anything," Bledsoe said. "I mean, it's the Super Bowl. It's what you play for."

Security a priority

Super Bowl officials insist that the game will be the country's most secure sporting event ever.

Super Bowl XXXVI is a National Security Special Event, which is a designation created for those with the highest profiles and risks, and one the sports world will see more of in the post-Sept. 11 world. The game is only the 12th such event to be given the highest status since Congress enacted the law in the last 10 years.

Stories of courage

Rams coach Mike Martz is a Civil War buff and from time to time, he'll draws parallels between that history and football for his players.

"I wish I could tell you I was that smart and could apply all that stuff," he said. "The thing that intrigues me about the Civil War is the profiles of the people involved like [Joshua] Chamberlain. It's fascinating to read about some of the things these people, who had such a huge impact on history, went through and how extreme some of the situations were for these guys.

"There are a lot of things from the situations within the Civil War to draw from to talk to the players about, and we've talked about some of these things, particularly in camp as illustrations for courage and commitment."

Feeling out the Patriots

The Rams continue to play down the difference between Bledsoe and Brady. Cornerback Aeneas Williams says the common denominator is Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

"Both of them [Bledsoe and Brady] are pocket quarterbacks," Williams said. "If the offensive coordinator had changed, that would be something different. But it's the same offensive coordinator. We pretty much have a feel for the parameters of which plays will be called."

Dinner on the quarterback

On the team's first night in New Orleans on Monday, Rams quarterback Kurt Warner took his offensive linemen out to dinner. It helps make up for the lack of publicity that is inherent in a lineman's job description.

"Last year we got a little portable DVD player from him," said right guard Adam Timmerman. "It's nice to be appreciated by your quarterback."

Asked who picked up the dinner tab, Warner provided this playful answer: "I can't really speak on it, but those guys got out of there pretty quickly, I'll say that."

Similar to Billick

Nearly a year ago, Rams starting safety Kim Herring and reserve outside linebacker O.J. Brigance were members of the Ravens' winning Super Bowl team. They're back at the Big Show, and have noticed a lot of similarities between Martz and Ravens boss Brian Billick.

"Their main similarity is that both keep their hands on the pulse of a team, and they like to keep us fresh," Brigance said. "They know where the team is as far as being tired and needing a rest."

Said Herring: "I like Billick. I love Billick. Both will defend players, deflect all the attention away from players and put it on the coach. They will put all the pressure on the coach."

They also noticed one major difference.

"Billick loves the media; he is a media magnet," Herring said. "Martz is totally different."

Said Brigance: "Billick gives a good interview. He enjoys being in front of the camera. Martz is more content to just coach his team. I don't know if he really enjoys that aspect of coaching [dealing with the media]. He does it because he has to."

Sun columnist Mike Preston contributed to this article.

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