Rams running back earns offensive honor
New York For the second straight season, Marshall Faulk has been voted The Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Faulk, selected the league's Most Valuable Player last week by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover pro football, set an NFL record with 26 touchdowns, led the NFC with 2,189 combined yards (1,359 rushing and 830 passing) and had 81 receptions, the most by an NFC running back.
Former Jayhawk fired
New York Mike Sweatman, a former Kansas University linebacker who was the New York Jets' special teams coach for the past four seasons, was fired Thursday. Sweatman was a college assistant at Kansas, Tulsa and Tennessee before the Minnesota Vikings hired him in 1984. He has also been an aide with the New York Giants and New England Patriots.
Barber switches cast, status uncertain
East Rutherford, N.J. New York Giants halfback Tiki Barber practiced with a smaller cast on his broken left arm Thursday and didn't appear to have any problems.
Coach Jim Fassel is concerned about Barber's ability to field punts, and there is a chance Amani Toomer Ike Hilliard will do that in the NFC semifinal against Philadelphia on Sunday.
Rams fill vacancy
St. Louis Two days after firing four of his coaches, St. Louis coach Mike Martz hired Bill Kollar on Thursday to take charge of the defensive line. Kollar replaces Carl Hairston, released Tuesday along with defensive coordinator Peter Giunta, secondary coach Steve Brown and special teams coach Larry Pasquale. The firings came after the Rams' season ended Saturdays. Kollar, 48, spent 10 seasons as Atlanta's defensive line coach.
Detroit agrees to hire Millen as general manager
Detroit The Lions are ready to hire former NFL linebacker Matt Millen at a general manager-level position. The Lions and Millen have reached an agreement that probably will be announced next week.
The decision leaves in doubt the future of Gary Moeller, whom the Lions promoted to head coach after Ross resigned Nov. 6.
Chargers hire Butler
San Diego John Butler agreed Thursday to become executive vice president and general manager of the Chargers, giving the NFL's worst team one of the league's best talent evaluators. Terms of the contract weren't immediately available, but the two sides reportedly were discussing a five-year, $7.5 million deal. A scout with the Chargers from 1985-86, Butler returns to San Diego after 14 seasons in the Buffalo Bills' front office, the last eight as general manager.
Cardinals won't keep linebacker Smith
Tempe, Ariz. Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said the team would not offer a new contract to Mark Smith, who has held out each of the last two years. The decision means Smith will become an unrestricted free agent.
The 6-foot-4, 294-pound lineman, a seventh-round draft pick out of Auburn in 1997, led the defensive line in solo tackles with 54 in 1998. But he missed training camp and the first two games of the following season in a contract holdout, then played two games before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
After the 1999 season, Smith failed to participate in the team's off-season weight and training programs. He attended but did not participate in the spring mini-camp.
Again, Smith held out. After six games, then-coach Vince Tobin demoted Smith from the starting lineup because of poor play. Smith made 40 tackles 27 solo and three sacks.
Turner interested in Arizona job
Phoenix Norv Turner has talked with Arizona coach Dave McGinnis about becoming offensive coordinator of the Cardinals.
Turner, fired as head coach of Washington in December after the team failed to make the playoffs, was previously offensive coordinator for Dallas.
Kubiak scheduled for Houston interview
Denver Gary Kubiak, the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator, will interview for the head coaching job with the expansion Houston Texans.
Kubiak, who is from Houston, is scheduled to meet with Texans owner Bob McNair and general manager Charlie Casserly Jan. 17-18.
Because the Texans don't begin play until 2002, McNair is expected to hire a coach after the 2001 season. That means Kubiak likely would remain with the Broncos at least through next season.
Bengals promote Duffner, hire two assistants
Cincinnati Mark Duffner, Cincinnati's linebackers coach, will continue in that role and become defensive coordinator. Duffner succeeds Dick LeBeau, who took over as head coach when Bruce Coslet quit three games into the 2000 season.
The Bengals also hired Kevin Coyle, defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons at Fresno State, as defensive backfield coach.
John Garrett, an assistant with the Bengals in 1995-98, rejoined the team as an offensive assistant.