JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 1 -- Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell tried to take a low-key approach to his first Super Bowl week appearance in front of the national media Tuesday, insisting he was "definitely shocked" that several comments he made about the New England Patriots secondary last week became splashy bulletin board material for the defending Super Bowl champions.
"I was saying when I saw the media pumping it up, I was like, 'If you're hyping up Freddie Mitchell and Rodney Harrison, it's gonna be a [rotten] Super Bowl,' " Mitchell said. "I mean you have two great quarterbacks in Donovan McNabb and [Tom] Brady, but it's not really on them each time you turn on the TV. It's kind of interesting how this is all playing out."
Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell played down comments he made last week about the Patriots' secondary saying, they are "a good bunch, they really are."
(Stephen Savoia -- AP)
Mitchell last week identified several members of the Patriots' secondary by number because he said he couldn't remember their names and also said he might have something special in mind for New England safety Rodney Harrison.
In recent days, several of his teammates spoke to him about toning down his act, and Mitchell apparently got the message.
"I think Freddie understands now that certain things you can't say," Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said. "I saw the comments. I think he was joking, but you have to be careful about what you say."
Coach Andy Reid had also said he would speak with Mitchell, and the wide receiver said: "He didn't like the comment I said. That's his program, that's how it goes. . . . Andy knows what kind of player I am, and he knows what I'm going to give him on Sunday. . . . I never feel bad for anything I say. It's interesting though how they blew it up. It's cool, whatever happens, happens."
Mitchell did offer praise for the Patriots' secondary, describing them as "a good bunch, they really are. They limit their mistakes and capitalize off other teams' mistakes. That's why they win. It's kind of like tennis and unforced errors. Unforced errors. You can win all day on those."
E. Smith Might Retire, or Not
There were conflicting reports about the football future of Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader. ESPN reported Smith would retire this offseason and an announcement could come here Thursday. But Smith denied the report to the Dallas Morning News, saying he still felt he could play next season if a team wants him. Smith's contract with the Arizona Cardinals has expired, and he is eligible for unrestricted free agency in March. . . .
As Brady tries to become a three-time Super Bowl winner, Reid said comparisons of Brady to Joe Montana are valid.
"You've got to compare those two," Reid said. "They are both similar in their composure. They both have a smooth delivery and approach to the game. They don't seem to get rattled. They have won the big game. I have no problem saying that because I think Brady is a great kid. I felt that way about Joe. They are both good people."
Seymour Plans to Play
Richard Seymour, the Patriots' three-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman, said he expects to be able to play Sunday. He has missed the Patriots' last three games, including their two wins in the AFC playoffs, apparently because of a sprained medial collateral ligament.
"That's definitely the plan," Seymour said of being able to play against the Eagles. "Whenever my body is ready to go, that's when I'll be ready to go. I've been doing everything I can to try to get back out on the football field. I'm feeling more confidence and getting closer and closer. But time will tell. I just have to have enough confidence to play. . . . I think the injury may be healed, but you have to have the confidence."
The Super Bowl comes six weeks after Seymour got hurt, and most MCL injuries heal within six weeks. Seymour sat out the Patriots' practice Monday on a slick field at a local high school but could practice Wednesday. Coach Bill Belichick left open the possibility before the AFC championship game that Seymour would play a limited role in that contest, but Seymour was on the Patriots' inactive list for their triumph at Pittsburgh.
"I definitely won't be 100 percent," Seymour said. "But I feel like I do a pretty good job in the classroom and understanding the little parts of the game. It's not all physical. You need to understand what's going on and where you need to be on the football field. Hopefully I can go out there and do that."
Patriots First, Browns Later
Media day was a rare opportunity for Patriots assistant coaches to speak to reporters. They usually are barred from doing so by reporters. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel almost certainly will become the Cleveland Browns' head coach after the Super Bowl. But he said his focus is only on Sunday's game.
"I still work for the Patriots," Crennel said. "So when I finish this game, if Cleveland decides they want to offer me a job, then they will contact me and offer me a job. But until that time occurs, I am a Patriot." . . .
Trotter said that even with Brady at quarterback, the focus for the defense will be attempting to shut down tailback Corey Dillon. "Everything they do works off" Dillon, Trotter said. "Brady is a great play-action quarterback. If we stop the run, then the play-action doesn't work." . . .
Trotter owns a car wash in Cherry Hill, N.J., and said the recent snowfalls have been good for business. "When it snows and the salt is on the road, we do well," he said. "I was about to go out and spread some salt around myself."