Bruschi takes part in Pats' workout

Linebacker's ailing leg `coming along well'

aides miss out on job openings

Pro Football

Super Bowl notebook

January 27, 2004|By Jamison Hensley and Ken Murray | Jamison Hensley and Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

HOUSTON -- New England's Tedy Bruschi participated in the team's light workout yesterday.

The starting inside linebacker hurt his right calf in the AFC championship game on Jan. 18 and is getting treatment on it three or four times a day. He was the team's second-leading tackler this season and scored three touchdowns.

"Ted's coming along well," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who is known for being tight-lipped about injuries. "He did some work today. So it's coming along fine."

Crennel, Weis left out

Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis were victims of the Patriots' success.

The Oakland Raiders, who hired Norv Turner as coach yesterday, were the last of seven NFL teams to fill their head coaching vacancy, leaving the New England coordinators without a chance to get a head coaching job.

The league's tampering rules prohibit teams with openings from offering jobs to coaches for playoff teams until their season is completed.

"We didn't make the rules," Belichick said. "We just abide by them. I was in a Super Bowl and ended up coaching the following year in Cleveland [in 1991]. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't."

Mum's the word

Carolina Panthers coach Mike Fox can be a man of few words when he wants to be. Like yesterday, when he was asked about his abrupt departure from the Oakland Raiders during training camp in 1996.

Fox was starting his third season as defensive coordinator for the Raiders when he walked away over an undisclosed disagreement, presumably with Raiders owner Al Davis.

When reminded of his bold decision in a news conference, Fox was at his cryptic best.

"I decided I wanted to move in a different direction," he said. "I resigned and I left."

Fox joined the St. Louis Rams as a consultant under coach Rich Brooks for the rest of the 1996 season. He broke down tape, but didn't coach.

"I worked five days a week," he said. "It was an enjoyable year."

Fox returned to the sideline the following season as defensive coordinator with the New York Giants, with whom he remained until getting the Panthers' coaching position in 2002.

Different strokes

Panthers running back Stephen Davis didn't bring a camera to Houston. Linebacker Will Witherspoon did. Davis is in his eighth NFL season, Witherspoon his second. Even teammates treat the Super Bowl differently.

"I've got my camera," Witherspoon said. "I should have brought a couple more things to document you [the media]. You've got to get it all because you never know when you're going to be here next. ... So it's good to document it and keep those memories fresh, and put them into something you can keep and store for life."

Davis said he will store it all in his memory bank.

"If you're not here, you won't be able to see it through me," he said. "I'm not going to take pictures; it's all going to be a memory for me because it's something that I want to enjoy personally. Just have fun, but the game is the most important thing here. I think that the team knows that and I know that."

Too close for comfort

This Super Bowl touches close to home for Richard Seymour.

The Patriots' Pro Bowl defensive lineman grew up in Gadsden, S.C., which is about 45 minutes outside of Charlotte, N.C., where the Panthers are based.

"I tell my father all the time, I can't let the Panthers win or I can't go home," Seymour said.

Fans flock back

The last time the Panthers played the Patriots in a game that counted, New England handed Carolina its 15th straight loss in the 2001 season finale. The game, in Charlotte, seemed like a road game to Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan.

"It was a bad feeling," Morgan said. "We got blown out and it was all New England fans. We were glad to see our fans back in the stadium this year."

Some 10,000 Panthers fans went to the airport Sunday to see the team off in inclement weather.

Pause that refreshes

The two-week break has helped refresh the Panthers in general and Davis in particular. After he strained his left quadriceps in the divisional round win at St. Louis, Davis had minimal practice time. He played in the NFC championship at Philadelphia, but didn't participate in last week's practices in Charlotte.

Yesterday, Davis returned to practice, took his full share of snaps and was deemed recovered from the leg injury. "He's as full strength as I've seen him," Fox said.

"I think we needed it," Davis said of the extra week to rest injuries. "We haven't had a bye since the third week of the season."

Polishing up the plan

Fox wants to treat this as a normal workweek, but with one distinct difference. He already installed 75 percent of his game plan back in Charlotte and will apply the rest here.

"We've got to keep their interest this week," Fox said. "We'll go through our same sequence ... [and] just tweak our game plan."

The Panthers won't have a curfew until tomorrow night.

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