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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

NFL Briefs

December 7, 2001

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Raiders' Gruden won't take Irish job

Alameda, Calif. Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Thursday he isn't a candidate for the Notre Dame football job.

"I've got a job," said Gruden, who was considered a leading candidate. "I've tried to say that from the very beginning and I don't want to speculate on any other job, except the job I have.

"All I can comment on is the Oakland Raiders and that's all I know right now, unfortunately."

Gruden, whose father Jim was an assistant coach at Notre Dame in the late 1980s, played high school football in South Bend, Ind. and was an avid fan of the Fighting Irish. That and his success coaching the Raiders this season fueled speculation he was the leading candidate to replace Bob Davie, who was fired Sunday.

But Gruden, whose contract with the Raiders runs through the 2002 season, said he wanted to end rumors.

"I didn't want to answer any more questions, honestly," Gruden said. "Notre Dame's a great school and I'm sure they're going to have a great coach and do great things. I'll be rooting for them. I've always been a Notre Dame fan. I always will be."

Gruden also said that he had yet to hear from the NFL regarding the possible suspension of defensive tackle Darrell Russell. Russell reportedly was in New York appealing the one-year suspension by league officials after allegedly testing positive for the drug Ecstasy. Russell already served a four-game suspension earlier this season for a second violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Green Bay releases embattled safety

Green Bay, Wis. The last time safety Chris Akins landed in coach Mike Sherman's doghouse, it cost him a paycheck. This time, it cost him his job.

The Green Bay Packers parted ways Thursday with the embattled safety and will officially release him today.

Akins lost his starting spot three weeks ago when he committed a costly personal foul that led to Atlanta's winning touchdown and then got into a shouting match with Sherman on the sideline.

Sherman considered cutting him then but instead fined him a game's pay $21,611. Akins on Thursday said he wanted to be waived.

Jets' running back handed 12 yards

New York Curtis Martin took over the NFL's rushing lead Thursday without suiting up.

The New York Jets running back was credited with 12 additional yards in Sunday's 17-16 loss to New England. A first-quarter play originally recorded as a pass was changed to a lateral, making it a rush for Martin. That increased his season's total to 1,082, 10 more than Jerome Bettis.

Raiders No. 1 seller

Alameda, Calif. The Oakland Raiders are again the No. 1 seller for NFL Properties, displacing the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas is No. 2, followed by Tennessee, Minnesota and Green Bay.

Cincinnati places tight end on IR list

Cincinnati The Cincinnati Bengals put Brad St. Louis on injured reserve Thursday with a torn left groin muscle, the team's third tight end to be ruled out for the season.

St. Louis was hurt in practice Wednesday. He had played in all 11 of the Bengals' games this season, mainly as the long snapper on special teams.

Starting tight end Tony McGee sprained his right knee during the Bengals' 16-13 overtime defeat against Tampa Bay on Sunday. Trainers estimated it will take two months for him to recover, so he was put on injured reserve.

Ex-Jayhawk Davis back on field

St. Louis After a month on the sideline with a dislocated right wrist, St. Louis Rams' linebacker Don Davis feels 100 percent heading into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.

"The rest of my body is totally healthy," Davis, a former Kansas University player, said. "I'm what we call fresh legs out there. I hope to be the first one to the ball."

Davis' return brings the Rams' defense a step closer to returning to total health. He was one of five front-line players to not start last week's 35-6 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

Smith questionable

Denver Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith expects his availability to be a game-time decision Sunday as he struggles to recover from a sprained left ankle.

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