Freddie Mitchell's big mouth struck again.

The Philadelphia Eagles' other loquacious receiver — the one without the Pro Bowl pedigree and ankle injury — offended some Patriots when he dissed their secondary in a television interview.

Mitchell, a starter only because All-Pro Terrell Owens is hurt, said he just knew the numbers — not the names — of New England's cornerbacks. He singled out Rodney Harrison, saying he "has something" for the veteran strong safety.

"It just shows he doesn't have respect for us," Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel said Friday, responding to Mitchell's comments from a day earlier.

The Patriots' defensive backs will see Mitchell up close when the defending champions meet the Eagles in the Super Bowl next Sunday.

"You have so many young guys nowadays, so many young guys that don't have respect for the game," Harrison said. "Some people are just immature. Some people really haven't experienced certain things."

The Patriots have a patchwork secondary that includes a rookie free agent (Randall Gay), a converted wide receiver (Troy Brown) and a guy (Hank Poteat) who was taking college courses before the playoffs started.

Starters Tyrone Poole and Ty Law have been sidelined with injuries most of the season, but the fill-ins shut down Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts in a second-round playoff game and intercepted Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger three times in the AFC championship game.

"Freddie Mitchell is a guy who is getting time now because Terrell is hurt," Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest said. "We don't worry about what he's saying. He will have to deal with that on the field.

"All I can say is, Rodney Harrison is the wrong guy to mention, especially if you're a receiver. He (Mitchell) is not humble. He hasn't done enough in this league to be on TV talking about that. Philly has a lot more class than that. It's just one guy."

Mitchell's response to the Patriots' reaction?

"I was joking. I don't care. It'll all be solved on Sunday," he said.

A first-round pick in 2001, Mitchell hasn't lived up to his potential in four seasons with the Eagles. He had five catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns, including one on a fumble recovery, in Philadelphia's second-round playoff win against Minnesota. But he caught just two passes for 20 yards in the NFC championship game against Atlanta.

"I'm a special player," Mitchell said after the win against Minnesota. "I want to thank my hands for being so great."

Mitchell and the rest of the Eagles' receivers clearly are tired of hearing about Owens, who had surgery to repair torn ankle ligaments on Dec. 22. and is trying to return for the Super Bowl despite his doctor's orders.

"We got there without T.O.," Mitchell said. "He's going to be a great addition if he comes, but we're going to stick with our guns. When he comes back, he'll be a huge help for us because he's one of the best receivers in the game. Until then, let's talk about Greg Lewis, Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell, the receivers who are here and won the NFC championship."

Mitchell later grabbed a reporter's microphone and bombarded Lewis with questions in a mock voice.

"What about T.O.? Is he 80 percent? When is he coming back? How do the receivers get it done without T.O.?" Mitchell said.

Lewis replied: "Everybody said we weren't capable of winning without T.O., but we proved them wrong."

Mitchell has something to prove to the Patriots.

TICKET DISTRIBUTION: Tom Brady's usual to-do list — study game plan, lift weights, buckle chin strap — has a new item. Distribute Super Bowl tickets.

"It is hard. You only get a certain amount," the New England Patriots quarterback said. "It is hard to say, 'You can come to the game, and you can't come to the game.' I have definitely been dealing with all of that."

The team allows each player to buy 15 tickets to the game Feb. 6 against Philadelphia. Brady doesn't expect to be done giving them out to family members and friends until next week.

"I'm their best contact. Everyone I know calls and says, 'Can you get me tickets or hotels?' " Brady said. "It is definitely the biggest headache of this."

DOUBLE-DUTY FOR WESTBROOK? Versatile Eagles running back Brian Westbrook could return punts against the Patriots in the Super Bowl in addition to running and receiving. A dangerous returner, Westbrook hardly played special teams this season because he was Philadelphia's primary back and the Eagles didn't want to risk him getting injured. He had two punt returns for touchdowns in 2003 but returned just two punts for 14 yards this year.

"He's in the mix. He's one of our options, but our young returners have done a really good job all year," Eagles special teams coach John Harbaugh said.

Rookie cornerback Dexter Wynn finished the season as the Eagles' punt returner after second-year running back Reno Mahe opened as the starter. Rookie safety J.R. Reed and cornerback Rod Hood handle kickoff returns.

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SIMONEAU'S RETURN: Eagles weakside linebacker Mark Simoneau, who missed two playoff games with an ankle injury, should return for the Super Bowl but probably won't start.

Keith Adams filled in nicely for Simoneau in the playoffs, including an outstanding performance in the NFC championship game against Atlanta. Adams had seven tackles against the Falcons, including a couple on quarterback Michael Vick that prevented long gains.

"We're very happy with him," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said of Adams.

Johnson said there is a chance Simoneau could start the game, depending on which defensive package the Eagles use.

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