JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 31 -- Andy Reid isn't gloating.
The Philadelphia Eagles' coach was criticized for his decision to rest some front-line players, including quarterback Donovan McNabb and tailback Brian Westbrook, in the final two games of the regular season, just after the club lost wide receiver Terrell Owens to a severely sprained ankle and a fractured fibula. Reid succeeded in avoiding another key injury, but he potentially cost his offense a chance to adjust to life without Owens. And the Eagles entered the postseason coming off two lopsided defeats.
No matter. They totaled 54 points in their two playoff victories and reached the franchise's first Super Bowl in 24 years. Reid may have been vindicated, but he wasn't taking bows Monday after his team's first practice of the week in preparation for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots at Alltel Stadium.
"It's easy to say resting them was the right decision because we're here," Reid said. "We made the Super Bowl. I could have gone either way. But it worked out right. It gave our guys a little time to come back and get themselves healthy. . . . There are a lot of people I really respect that didn't agree with what we did, and there are a lot of people I do respect who did agree with the way we handled it. . . . Fortunately, it worked for us."
Ex-Patriot Sides With Son
Former New England Patriots defensive lineman Julius Adams won't have mixed emotions when his former team plays the Eagles. He'll be rooting for Philadelphia because his son, linebacker Keith Adams, is likely to start.
"Blood is thicker than water, I guess," Keith Adams told the Boston Globe. "He wants the Eagles to win."
Keith Adams is the youngest of Julius Adams's four children and was born in Norwood, Mass., when his father was in his ninth season with the Patriots. When Keith was 6, his father played in the Super Bowl after the 1985 season -- and the Patriots lost, 46-10, to the Chicago Bears.
"It's a great memory," Julius Adams said. "We had so many disappointments as a team [in previous years], so it was definitely a thrill to get there."
Julius, an assistant coach at W.J. Keenan High School in Columbia, S.C., is on his way to Jacksonville to see his son play in his first Super Bowl. Keith played college football at Clemson and was a seventh-round draft pick by Tennessee in 2001. The Eagles picked him up on waivers in 2002.
Eagles Feeling Just as Good
The Patriots have won 31 of 33 games and are trying to join the 1990s Dallas Cowboys as the only teams to win three Super Bowls in four years. But Reid and several of his players said Monday they don't regard themselves as underdogs this week after a 13-3 regular season.
"I don't believe our players feel that way," Reid said. "They think they're as good as any team in the National Football League. . . . That's how they're approaching this thing." . . .
Reid said he expects tight end Jeff Thomason, signed after Chad Lewis got hurt, to participate in about 15 plays on Sunday.
Seymour Ready, or Not
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick was guarded, as usual, about the status of Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who missed the AFC playoffs because of a knee injury. "If Richard is ready to play, he'll play," Belichick said. Seymour didn't practice Monday, nor did linebacker Ted Johnson, who was bothered by a tight leg muscle. . . .
The final game of Belichick's unsuccessful five-year tenure as the Cleveland Browns' head coach came in Jacksonville in 1995. The Browns capped a 5-11 season -- the franchise's final season in Cleveland before moving to Baltimore -- with a 24-21 loss to the Jaguars on a last-second field goal. "I try to forget that game," Belichick said Monday. "It wasn't the most pleasant day of my life, that's for sure."
Asked what he'd learned during his years in Cleveland, Belichick said: "If you're the head coach, you don't want to see the team move in the middle of the season. That would be one thing."
Around the NFL
Former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett withdrew from a skills competition for NFL draft prospects scheduled to be held Monday at Dolphins Stadium and broadcast this weekend by Fox. Clarett pulled out to prepare for the late-February NFL scouting combine, his representatives said. . . .
The San Francisco 49ers interviewed Randy Mueller and Bill Kuharich on Sunday for their front-office job left vacant by the dismissal of Terry Donahue as general manager. Mueller, the former general manager of the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks, and Kuharich, the vice president of pro personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs, are the two most prominent of eight candidates interviewed thus far. . . . The Seahawks, searching for a team president to replace Bob Whitsitt, reportedly have asked Denver for permission to interview Ted Sundquist, the Broncos' general manager. . . .
The 49ers released quarterback Jeff Garcia last offseason, and the Browns could do so this offseason. Garcia was unhappy during an unproductive season in Cleveland, and he didn't mesh with offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, who could remain with the team if Romeo Crennel, as expected, is hired as coach. The free agent market could be well-stocked with veteran quarterbacks. Buffalo might release Drew Bledsoe and elevate J.P. Losman to be its starter. . . .
Jim Mora made it to the Super Bowl, after all. The former Saints and Indianapolis Colts head coach is working here as a broadcaster for the NFL Network. His son, also named Jim, is the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and lost to the Eagles in the NFC title game.