Westbrook is Pats' challenge like Faulk in '02

Eagles seek to free back

Owens, Seymour practice

Notebook

Super Bowl

February 03, 2005|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Brian Westbrook entered the NFL as a small player from a small program.

Three years later, the Philadelphia Eagles' 5-foot-8 running back out of Division I-AA Villanova is drawing big praise at the Super Bowl.

"He's fast, and he's explosive," Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said. "It's like playing against Marshall Faulk. If you plan on beating Philly, you try to contain him. I don't think you can ever stop a guy like him, because he does so many different things."

Westbrook was the Eagles' leading rusher (812 yards) and second-best receiver (73 catches) in the regular season.

And if the Patriots liken Westbrook to Faulk, they'll probably play him the same way they did Faulk in the 2002 Super Bowl. In that game, New England took a physical approach in holding Faulk to 76 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving.

Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said he has studied that tape.

"They challenged Marshall through the line of scrimmage and banged him when he flexed out," Reid said.

Before anyone can lay a hit on Westbrook, a defense has to locate him first. He'll line up at running back, in the slot or at wide-out, a multi-dimensional threat who can score from anywhere on the field.

"It will be important for us to know where he is at," linebacker Mike Vrabel said. "He has the ability to turn a 5-yard gain into a 35-yard gain in a hurry, just by making one guy miss a tackle that you think is a sure tackle."

More progress for T.O.

Terrell Owens logged in about 12 to 15 plays in practice, increasing his chances of returning Sunday. The Eagles' Pro Bowl receiver has repeatedly insisted he will play Sunday after missing the past four games.

"T.O. got some work. He did good with it," Reid said. "We gave him a little more work than we gave him the last couple of days, and we'll give him more tomorrow. He's making progress. We'll see."

Owens is listed as questionable on the injury report. Only Washington's Art Monk and Philadelphia's Charlie Smith have caught passes in the Super Bowl after being sidelined all of the previous playoff games.

Seymour cleared to play

New England defensive end Richard Seymour participated in his first full practice in six weeks, wearing a brace to protect his sprained left knee.

"He did everything we asked him to do, so he's good to go," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

No one is listed on the Patriots' injury report. Inside linebacker Ted Johnson, who sat out Monday's practice, also returned and did not appear to have problems.

Shipshape rooms

The first two cruise ships sailed into town, providing more than 3,600 much-needed rooms for Super Bowl visitors.

Jacksonville, the smallest market to host the NFL's marquee game, rented five ships and will dock them along the St. Johns River for five days. The rooms aboard the ships cost $300 to $400 a night.

Sloppy practice

Belichick was in a surly mood and it had nothing to do with the afternoon rain forcing his team to practice in the morning.

New England was inconsistent throughout its noncontact workout. Quarterback Tom Brady was intercepted and sacked by the scout team, and the sloppy play of the defense drew the anger of Belichick.

"We're getting there but we're not there yet," Belichick said.

Blake reaches big game

Former Ravens quarterback Jeff Blake, now a third-stringer for the Eagles, is suiting up for the first Super Bowl of his 13-year career.

"Playing on six teams, I just wanted to find a place where I was wanted," Blake said. "Now, I want to get a ring."

Blake was 4-6 as a starter for the Ravens in 2002.

Snap judgment

Brady drew some chuckles from reporters when describing his "special" relationship with center Dan Koppen.

"We spend so much time together," Brady said, "and my hands are in the wrong place sometimes for too long."

At the end of his 15-minute news conference, Brady apologized for being too boring.

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