He won two Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots, but Philadelphia Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount said he considered his former team a “faceless opponent” going into Super Bowl LII on Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“It doesn’t make it any more or less exciting than any other team,” Blount said.
Three Patriots who played for the Eagles — running back Dion Lewis and defensive backs Eric Rowe and Patrick Chung — expressed similar feelings about facing their former team.
The Eagles selected Lewis in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, but former coach Chip Kelly traded him to the Cleveland Browns.
“My memories of playing in Philly was not playing,” said Lewis, who this season rushed for 896 yards and scored six touchdowns, three each by run and reception.
Rowe was drafted by Kelly in 2015, but he was traded to the Patriots before the 2016 season.
“I don’t hold any grudges against them,” Rowe said. “I mean, it’s just a business. … Obviously, they had their plans, so they let me go.
“It’s not like they released me. They traded me to another team that helped me move my career.”
Chung, who played in college at Oregon, began his NFL career with the Patriots. He signed with the Eagles and Kelly in 2013 but was cut after the season and rejoined the Patriots.
Does playing the Eagles in the Super Bowl make it any sweeter?
“Just as sweet,” Chung said.
Making the rounds
During and after the season, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald spoke often about how sitting out training camp helped his body remain fresh all the way through a playoff game.
Donald still had a bounce in his step Thursday as he traversed radio row in the Mall of America while doing promotional work for Gatorade in the run-up to the Super Bowl.
“I wish I was here playing,” he said, “but it’s all good.”
Donald, who had 11 sacks in 14 games, is regarded as a candidate for defensive player of the year. Despite sitting out offseason workouts and training camp because of a contract dispute, he played a huge role in the Rams’ run to the NFC West title and their first playoff appearance since 2004.
Donald said the Rams could “for sure” take another step and advance to the Super Bowl in coming seasons under coach Sean McVay.
“We can do it,” he said. “We got the players around, the coaches around us now, so we’ll be back for sure.”
Donald, 26, is scheduled to make about $6.9 million next season in the final year of his rookie contract. He is believed to be seeking a new deal that would not only make him the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, but also put him in the salary realm of what quarterbacks command.
In 2016, Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox signed a six-year, $102-million contract that will pay him $17.9 million next season.
Asked this week if players such as Donald and Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack should be paid like quarterbacks, many of whom have salary-cap numbers of more than $20 million, Cox said yes.
“Those guys will get paid good money,” Cox said. “Obviously both those guys are incredible, and every good team has a D-lineman that’s going to make a lot of money.
“Aaron and Khalil, those guys deserve it. They’ve proven and shown that they deserve that quarterback money.”
Apprised of Cox’s comments, Donald grinned broadly.
“That’s my man,” he said. “That’s my main man.”
As he did throughout the season, Donald deflected questions about negotiations, saying he would leave it to his agents.
“I did my part, put it on the film,” he said. “I’ll let my guys handle the business side.”
From one extreme to another
A trip to the Super Bowl seemed like a longshot for a player on a winless Browns team.
But Kenny Britt, a former Rams receiver, has a chance to win a ring after the Patriots signed him late in the season.
“It’s been a whirlwind, to tell you the truth,” Britt said this week. “With the change, coming from L.A. to Cleveland to here now, it’s been all good and all up since I’ve been here.”
Britt, 29, had a 1,000-yard receiving season for the Rams in 2016. McVay and the Rams, however did not re-sign him.
The struggling Browns gave Britt a four-year, $32.5-million contract, but his 13-game stay in Cleveland was problematic if not profitable.
Britt was inactive for several games and caught only 18 passes for 233 yards in nine games. He collected a guaranteed $10.5 million.
The first day that new general manager John Dorsey joined the Browns organization he cut Britt.
“To tell you the truth, it was up and down,” Britt said of his stint with the Browns. “I’m just glad that part right there is just behind me right now.”
The Patriots signed the 6-foot-3, 223-pound Britt to a two-year contract with three games remaining in the regular season. Coach Bill Belichick told reporters, “We’ll see how it goes.”
Britt caught two passes, but was inactive for both playoff games.
“I’m just happy and excited to be here,” he said. “This is my ninth year in the league, and I’d never been in the playoffs.
“I’m part of something now, and we’re still playing football in December and January, and it’s kind of cool.
“So whatever it is, I’m just playing my part.”
Britt said he was happy for his former Rams teammates.
“Hats off to those guys for what they achieved this year,” he said. “I had a great time and a great experience when I was there.”