Patriots Report: Behind Enemy Lines

Patriots Report: Behind Enemy Lines

<p>The Philadelphia Eagles are getting prepared to play the defending Superbowl champion New England Patriots this Sunday at Alltel stadium in Jacksonville. A few Eagle players are putting in extra time to get ready for the game, including injured Terrell Owens and recently signed Jeff Thomason. One interesting note is that Eagles running back Brian Westbrook may find himself being utilized in a new, yet familiar role for the game.</p>

PHOTO: Philadelphia Eagles' Brian Westbrook (36) breaks the tackle of Carolina Panthers' Ricky Manning Jr. (24) (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Running back Brian Westbrook may see double-duty as the club's deep punt returner in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots.

Westbrook led the NFC in punt returns last season, averaging 15.3 yards per return and taking two back for touchdowns, including one in the final seconds against the Giants that turned around the season. But when his role in the offense increased this season, coach Andy Reid decided to relieve him of his return duties. He's returned just two all season.

But special teams coordinator John Harbaugh said that could change against the Patriots.

"There's been a good chance of that all year," Harbaugh said. "He's in the mix. He's one of our options. But he touched the ball a lot last week (21 touches in the NFC Championship Game against the Falcons). He's carrying the ball a ton both as a receiver and a running back. So you have to be smart about how you handle the touches."

Rookie Dexter Wynn currently is the Eagles' punt returner. He averaged an impressive 10.8 yards per return this season.

"Our young guys have done a really good job all year," Harbaugh said. "We'll see. But it's a possibility."

Freddie Mitchell was not assigned a podium spot during the Tuesday Media day sessions at the stadium. Mitchell addressed the media from the field or the stands, like many of his fellow teammates.

PLAYER NOTES

  • TE Jeff Thomason, who was signed last Tuesday to replace injured Chad Lewis, appears to be reacquainting himself with the offense fairly quickly. Thomason played for the Eagles from 2000 to 2002. He spent another seven years in the same offense in Green Bay.

  • LB Keith Adams likely will be the starting WLB in Super Bowl XXXIX. Adams started the first two playoff games there in place of injured Mark Simoneau. Simoneau is recovering from a high ankle sprain, but still isn't anywhere close to 100 percent.

  • LB Mark Simoneau, who has missed the first two playoff games with a high ankle sprain, is expected to play in Super Bowl XXXIX, but probably won't start. Keith Adams has started in his place in the postseason and played very well.

  • WR Terrell Owens continues to upgrade the pace of his rehabilitation in the hopes of playing in Super Bowl XXXIX. He has been running on a treadmill and is expected to try running and cutting throughout the week. Owens participated in about 30% of the session during the teams monday practice. According to T.O. he says he'll be ready to go on Sunday.

 

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