A look at the key players in Super Bowl 52
NEW YORK (AP) Projected starters and key players for the Super Bowl at Minneapolis on Feb. 4:
Nick Foles, QB (9), 6-foot-6, 243 pounds, 6th season, Arizona
Took over for Carson Wentz after Wentz tore his ACL in December against Rams. … Played first three seasons with Eagles before returning as free agent. … Became first QB in franchise history to throw for at least 300 yards and at least 3 TDs in playoff game with 352 yards, 3 TDs in NFC championship game.
LeGarrette Blount, RB (29), 6-0, 250, 8th season, Oregon
Won Super Bowls with Patriots after 2014, 2016 seasons. … Led NFL with career-high 18 rushing TDs in 2016. … Power runner who does best work near end zone.
Jay Ajayi, RB (36), 6-0, 223, 3rd season, Boise State
Acquired from Miami at trade deadline. … Became first player in NFL history to produce at least 400 rushing yards with two teams (465 yards, Miami, 408 yards, Philadelphia) in same season. … Was fourth in NFL in rushing in 2016 with 1,272 yards.
Alshon Jeffery, WR (17), 6-3, 218, 6th season, South Carolina
Led Eagles with 9 TD catches in regular season despite no 100-yard games. Only two receivers (DeAndre Hopkins, Devante Adams) had more. … Spent first five seasons with Bears. … Caught 5 passes for 85 yards and 2 TDs in NFC title game.
Nelson Agholor, WR (13), 6-0, 198, 3rd season, Southern Cal
First-round pick in 2015. … With 62 catches, 768 yards and 8 TDs, provides excellent complement to Jeffery in breakout season.
Torrey Smith, WR (82), 6-0, 205, 7th season, Maryland
Brings playoff experience to passing game. … Won Super Bowl 47 with Baltimore. … A deep threat.
Zach Ertz, TE (86), 6-5, 250, 5th season, Stanford
One of league’s best tight ends. Led team with 74 receptions and added 8 TDs. Had 8 catches for 93 yards in NFC championship game.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai, LT (72), 6-6, 320, 2nd season, TCU
Fifth-round pick in 2016. Can play both tackle positions. … Replacing perennial Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters.
Stefen Wisniewski, LG (61), 6-3, 305, 7th season, Penn State
Originally second-round pick of Oakland in 2011. … Has played left guard and center. … His uncle, Steve, was two-time All-Pro selection at guard with L.A. Rams and Oakland Raiders.
Jason Kelce, C (62), 6-3, 295, 7th season, Cincinnati
Went from sixth-round pick in 2011 to first All-Pro selection this season. … Dominant part of run game, can handle DTs one on one.
Brandon Brooks, RG (79), 6-5, 335, 6th season, Miami, Ohio
Spent first four seasons with Texans. … Joined Eagles in 2016. … Selected for first Pro Bowl in 2017.
Lane Johnson, RT (65), 6-6, 317, 5th season, Oklahoma
Second All-Pro on offensive line. … Was No. 4 overall pick in 2013. … Suspended 10 games in 2016 for violating NFL’s performance-enhancers policy.
Chris Long, DE (56), 6-3, 270, 10th season, Virginia
Won Super Bowl last year with Patriots. … First season with Eagles. …. Had 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in regular season and 8 QB pressures in NFC title game. … Similar performance could help Eagles pull upset in Super Bowl. … Second overall pick in 2008 draft by Rams. … Son of Hall of Fame DL Howie Long.
Fletcher Cox, DT (91), 6-4, 310, 6th season, Mississippi State
Three-time Pro Bowler. … Powerful force who’s second among Eagles interior linemen with 34 sacks. … Had season-high 7 tackles and sack of Falcons’ Matt Ryan in divisional playoff win against Atlanta.
Tim Jernigan, DT (93), 6-2, 295, 4th season, Florida State
Second-round pick of Ravens in 2014 was acquired in trade in April and provides depth on defensive line. … Signed four-year extension through 2021.
Brandon Graham, DE (55), 6-2, 265, 8th season, Michigan
Led Eagles with career-high 9+ sacks. … No. 13 pick in 2010 draft and longest-tenured member of Eagles defense. … Sacked Tom Brady twice when Eagles beat Patriots in previous meeting in 2015.
Derek Barnett, DE (96), 6-3, 259, 1st season, Tennessee
Had 5 sacks in rookie season. …. Had strip-sack of Case Keenum to halt Vikings’ red zone drive in NFC title game. … First-round pick last April.
Mychal Kendricks, LB (95), 6-0, 240, 6th season, Cal
Second on team with 77 tackles. … Has thrived under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. … Had team-high 10 tackles in NFC title game.
Dannell Ellerbe, LB (57), 6-1, 245, 9th season, Georgia
Won Super Bowl 47 with Baltimore. … Joined Eagles in November and became third middle linebacker after Jordan Hicks, Joe Walker sustained season-ending injuries. … Missed NFC title game with hamstring injury.
Nigel Bradham, LB (53), 6-2, 241, 6th season, Florida State
Acquired in trade with Buffalo in 2016. … Led all Eagles LBs with 99 tackles and had career-high 7 tackles for loss and tied for team lead with 2 forced fumbles in first season with Eagles.
Jalen Mills, CB (31), 6-0, 191, 2nd season, LSU
Seventh-round pick in 2016. Made key defensive play while guarding Julio Jones on fourth down to preserve 15-10 win over Falcons in divisional round.
Patrick Robinson, CB (21), 5-11, 191, 8th season, Florida State
First season with Eagles and led them with 4 interceptions in regular season. … Had spectacular 50-yard pick-6 against Vikings in NFC title game.
Ronald Darby, CB (41), 5-11, 193, 3rd season, Florida State
Missed eight games because of dislocated ankle sustained in season opener. … Will face challenge trying to cover Patriots wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola. … Inconsistent, but when he’s on, he can handle such assignments well.
Malcolm Jenkins, S (27), 6-0, 204, 9th season, Ohio State
Two-time Pro Bowler. … Key part of secondary tasked with slowing down Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski. … Had 99-yard pick-6 in previous meeting with Patriots. … Second in team history with four pick-6s, trailing Eric Allen.
Rodney McLeod, S (23), 5-10, 195, 6th season, Virginia
Signed five-year contract with Eagles after four seasons with Rams. … Had career-high 117 tackles in 2016. … Key guy in rushing defense.
Jake Elliott, K (4), 5-9, 170, 1st season, Memphis
Fifth-round pick by Bengals signed off practice squad when Caleb Sturgis was injured. … Set postseason club record with 53-yard field goal in divisional round. … Made 61-yarder to beat Giants during season.
Donnie Jones, P (8), 6-2, 221, 14th season, LSU
Averaged 45.3 yards per punt. Top punter in Eagles history in gross average, net average and punts inside 20.
Kenjon Barner, KR/PR (38), 5-9, 195, 4th season, Oregon
Filled in nicely after Darren Sproles was injured. … Barner’s best punt return went for 76 yards.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Tom Brady, QB (12), 6-4, 225, 18th season, Michigan
Led NFL with 4,577 yards passing this season. … Four-time Super Bowl MVP going for sixth ring … Is 5-2 in Super Bowls … Contender for third regular-season MVP award with 32 TD passes at age 40. … If Eagles don’t bring pressure, he will pick them apart.
Dion Lewis, RB (33), 5-8, 195, 6th season, Pittsburgh
Played first two seasons with Eagles … Missed next two seasons with injuries before joining Patriots in 2015 … Had 896 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. … One of most versatile RBs in league.
James White, RB (11), 5-10, 205, 4th season, Wisconsin
Set Super Bowl record with 14 receptions last year. … Also set Super Bowl record by scoring 20 points (2 rushing touchdowns, 1 touchdown reception and 2-point conversion). Scored tying and winning touchdowns against Falcons. … Solid pass-catching option out of backfield.
Brandin Cooks, WR, (14), 5-10, 189, 4th season, Oregon State
Acquired in trade with New Orleans. … Provides deep threat for Brady. … Second on team with 65 catches, 1,082 yards, 7 TDs.
Rob Gronkowski, TE (87), 6-6, 265, 8th season, Arizona
Had team-leading 69 receptions and 8 touchdowns. … Suffered concussion in AFC championship game. … Combination of size, strength and hands creates matchup nightmares. All-Pro who’s nearly impossible to stop with one single defender.
Nate Solder, LT (77), 6-8, 325, 7th season, Colorado
Has second-most important job on team: protecting Brady’s blindside … First-round pick in 2011, also played right tackle. … Solid contributor.
Joe Thuney, LG (62), 6-4, 305, 2nd season, North Carolina State
Third-round pick in 2016 who fits job description perfectly: diligent, unassuming, good student. … Typical Patriots O-lineman.
David Andrews, C (60), 6-3, 295, 3rd season, Georgia
Another young blocker, Andrew became starter as rookie and performed well. … Selected co-captain for first time in career. … Missed two games with injury.
Shaq Mason, RG (69), 6-1, 310, 3rd season, Georgia Tech
Third young blocker who came in as rookie. … Fourth-round pick in 2015, particularly strong in run game.
Cameron Fleming, RT (71), 6-6, 320, 4th season, Stanford
Replaced Marcus Cannon, who went on IR in December. … Versatile, has seen some duty at left tackle. … Also played special teams.
Eric Lee, DE (55), 6-3, 260, 1st season, South Florida
Signed off Buffalo practice squad on Nov. 21. … Originally signed by Houston as rookie free agent. Spent 2016 on Texans practice squad. … Went to training camp with Houston and released prior to start of season before joining Buffalo.
Lawrence Guy, DT (93), 6-4, 305, 7th season, Arizona State
Solid performer with 58 total tackles. … Signed as unrestricted free agent from Baltimore on March 13. … Drafted by Green Bay in seventh round of 2011 draft.
Malcom Brown, DT (90), 6-2, 320, 3rd season, Texas
First-rounder in 2015 who has been solid since joining team … Missed three games, but still had 2+ sacks this season. … Takes up lots of room inside.
Trey Flowers, DE (98), 6-2, 265, 3rd season, Arkansas
Patriots’ best pass rusher. Led team with 6+ sacks this season after 7 in 2016. … Had team-leading 6 tackles and 2+ sacks in Super Bowl last year.
Kyle Van Noy, LB (53), 6-3, 243, 4th season, BYU
Second-round pick by Detroit in 2014. Acquired in trade on Oct. 21, 2016. … Second on team with 5+ sacks. Began season at outside linebacker. Was asked to handle multiple roles, playing both on edge and middle of field at times.
Elandon Roberts, LB (52), 6-0, 235, 2nd season, Houston
Sixth-rounder from 2016 and helped fill void when Dont’a Hightower was lost for season with torn pectoral muscle.
James Harrison, LB (92), 6-0, 242, 15th season, Kent State
Won two Super Bowls with Steelers, had memorable 100-yard interception return for touchdown in Super Bowl 43. … Situational player at this point of lengthy career. Another option in passing situations. … Had 2 sacks in Pats debut in regular-season finale. … Has 6 tackles in Patriots’ postseason wins.
Stephon Gilmore, CB (24), 6-1, 190, 6th season, South Carolina
Signed five-year, $65 million contract to come from Buffalo and struggled with inconsistency early on. … Made key stop on fourth down on Jags’ final drive to preserve win in AFC title game.
Malcolm Butler, CB (21), 5-11, 190, 4th season, West Alabama
Still best known for interception of Russell Wilson at goal line to clinch Super Bowl win over Seattle three years ago. … Signed one-year tender worth $3.9 million. Set to be unrestricted free agent in 2018.
Patrick Chung, S (23), 5-11, 215, 9th season, Oregon
Second-round pick in 2009 who had many ups and downs. … Went to Eagles in 2013 and struggled, returned to New England and has been solid … Hard-hitting tackler with better ball skills and recognition than in first term with Patriots.
Devin McCourty, S (32), 5-10, 195, 8th season, Rutgers
First-round pick in 2010. … Defensive captain. … Leader of secondary. … Former cornerback who found home at safety. … Twin Jason plays for Cleveland.
Duron Harmon, S (30), 6-1, 205, 5th season, Rutgers
Signed four-year deal to return. … Led team with 4 interceptions, one of those was Ben Roethlisberger’s ill-fated fake spike in December at Pittsburgh.
Stephen Gostkowski, K (3), 6-1, 215, 12th season, Memphis
Team’s all-time scoring leader after replacing Adam Vinatieri … Made 37 of 40 field goals and 45 of 47 PATs this season for 156 points, second in the league to Greg Zuerlein.
Ryan Allen, P (6), 6-2, 220, 5th season, Louisiana Tech
Averaged 43.4 yards on punts in fifth season in Foxborough. Had only 2 punts blocked in career. Previous time was 2015 regular season against Eagles.
Dion Lewis, RB (33), 5-8, 195, 6th season, Pittsburgh
In addition to leading Pats in rushing, Lewis retuned 23 kicks for 570 yards, including 103-yarder against Denver.
Danny Amendola, PR (80), 5-11, 190, 8th season, Texas Tech
Was third on team with 61 receptions. … Caught two TD passes in fourth quarter to clinch rally against Jags in AFC title game. … Had 20-yard punt return to spark winning drive.
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