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Saturday, May 26, 2018
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  • Rick Stroud and Greg Auman

Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

The Bucs aren't playing for a Super Bowl, and the game itself won't come to Tampa for three more years. But there's no shortage of cool local connections and ties on the Patriots and Eagles' rosters. You've already heard some of these stories, and you'll read more in the next two weeks …

1. Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor played at Berkeley Prep. He hadn't produced like a first-round pick before this season, but Eagles traded away a starting receiver in Jordan Matthews to open up a bigger role for him, and he emerged with eight touchdown catches in 2017. Agholor, 24, has more catches, yards and TDs this season than in his first two seasons combined.

2. Eagles GM Howie Roseman is perhaps the best trader in the NFL. As they've moved in from the Chip Kelly years, he's set the franchise up — getting picks for Sam Bradford, dealing for Ronald Darby and Jay Ajayi and more, building the depth you need to withstand injuries as Philadelphia has this season. He's a Gator grad — was there for their national title as a student in 1996 — and few have written about his Gainesville roots.

3. LaGarrette Blount rushed for 1,007 yards as a rookie with the Bucs, but had enough issues off the field that Bucs traded him for spare parts after three years. Now he's back in the Super Bowl with Philadelphia, seeking a third ring, with 10 career postseason touchdowns. Has he matured or do other teams just better tolerate a lack of focus?

4. Lakewood's Bernard Reedy was cut by a struggling Bucs team and landed with one of the league's best. Cut by Tampa Bay, he's landed with the Patriots. What a year for a guy who was driving people in wheelchairs for $11 an hour last summer. St. Petersburg High's David Jones has also been on New England's practice squad all season as an undrafted rookie.

5. USF's Eric Lee didn't get a single sack until his senior year with the Bulls, and only five then. He had bounced around the league for two seasons without playing, but then he went to the Patriots midway through this season and has started five games, getting 3.5 sacks. Joey Knight wrote about how he's the 11th former USF player to reach a Super Bowl.

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