NFL Week off gives Davis, Bruschi time to recover
Media day brought a round of normal -- and not-so-normal -- questions.
HOUSTON (AP) -- Stephen Davis is healthy, Tedy Bruschi is mending. Two weeks may seem like an eternity of hype for fans waiting for Sunday's Super Bowl.
To Davis, Carolina's powerful running back, and Bruschi, New England's hard-hitting linebacker, the time off is a godsend.
"It helped out a whole lot," Davis said, "just being able to rest and get treatment. That was a big advantage to me."
The condition of the two stars was one of the few serious subjects amid the frenzy and foolishness that is Super Bowl media day.
Bruschi fielded a question about whether the Martha Stewart trial would detract from the game.
Justin Phillips, a 13-year-old, spiky-haired reporter for the Nickelodeon network, challenged Bruschi to spell the last name of Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme. Bruschi missed an "M."
"Wrong!" the questioner shouted.
Delhomme was not offended.
"I don't know how to spell Bruschi," he said.
Davis, slowed by an injured quad muscle in the Panthers' victory at Philadelphia in the NFC championship game, is as good to go as he's been in weeks, Carolina coach John Fox said.
Bruschi, though, is not fully recovered after injuring his leg against Indianapolis in the AFC championship game.
"It's going to take a lot to keep me out," he said. "Just to be out there on that nice green field to play with this team is something I'm going to make sure that I'm going to do. They might have to tie me up to keep me out of this one."
His chances of playing would have been greatly diminished had there been one week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl -- as has happened seven times in the 37-year history of the event.
"I probably benefited from this week more than anybody on the team," Bruschi said. "Getting hurt late in the AFC championship game, if I had only a week to prepare, who knows?"
The Patriots are notoriously tightlipped about injuries, so Bruschi would say only that he's getting better.
"I'm going to go out and maybe do some things tomorrow and see how it is from there," he said.
Coach Bill Belichick was only slightly more forthcoming.
"I think Tedy's made a lot of progress in the last eight or nine days, whatever it's been," Belichick said.
"I know that he's getting treatment three-plus times a day. We'll see where he is tomorrow, but I think he's improved significantly and we hope he'll be able to go."
There was no doubt that Davis would play, meaning the Panthers' will have not only him but DeShaun Foster at full strength against a New England defense that led the NFL in fewest points allowed (14.9).
Even a wounded Davis was critical to the victory at Philadelphia.
"He's been a huge reason why we're where we are," Fox said, "not just as a football player and what he's accomplished on the field, but you know this hasn't been his first barbecue. He's been around for a while. He understands what it takes to play in this league. He's been an outstanding role model for DeShaun Foster."
Most of the players seemed to enjoy the media day carnival. Many recorded the event on video.
"This is what it's all about," Carolina defensive tackle Brentson Buckner said. "This is the reward."
Panthers rookie cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., fresh from three interceptions against Philadelphia, had more practical reasons for his newfound attention.
"It sets up a lot of opportunities for me outside of football," he said. "You want to market yourself out there. I mean, it's great."
Rod Smart, the Carolina kick returner, was surrounded by reporters who wanted to hear about his days as "He Hate Me" in the short-lived XFL.
Soon, he was joined by teammate Jarod Cooper.
"Let's start a chant," Cooper said to the crowd. "He don't hate! He don't hate! He's sorry. He loves y'all."