Archive for Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Saunders interviews with expansion Texans

January 9, 2001


— The Houston Texans' coaching search continued Monday with St. Louis Rams associate head coach Al Saunders interviewing with the NFL expansion club.

Saunders, who has coached receivers in the Rams' explosive offense for the past two seasons, is a career assistant except for a head coaching stint with the San Diego Chargers in the 1980s.

After their morning meeting, Saunders complimented Texans general manager Charley Casserly.

"I tell you what, you've got the right guy here," Saunders said. "He's unbelievably prepared and thorough."

Saunders also said the team's retractable-roof stadium, under construction next to the Astrodome, and planned practice facilities appear first-rate.

"As far as facilities (and) player procurement possibilities, (the job) is going to be a tremendous opportunity," Saunders said.

Saunders is close to former Rams coach Dick Vermeil and did not dispel the possibility of returning to the Kansas City Chiefs if Vermeil take the coaching job there. Saunders coached Chiefs' receivers from 1989 to 1998, when he was passed over for the top spot.

An NFL decision was expected Tuesday on how much, if anything, the Chiefs may have to compensate the Rams to release Vermeil from his St. Louis contract.

Saunders was a college assistant from 1971 until 1983 when he arrived in San Diego to coach its receivers. He took over as head coach midway into the 1986 season and lasted through 1988.

Also Monday, Tennessee defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said the Texans have asked permission to speak with him regarding the Houston job, which owner Bob McNair says won't be filled for another year.

"There's some answers I have to get out of that franchise too before that interview actually comes about," Williams said. "There's word out they're going to wait until next year to hire a head coach. There's some things I've got to find out. If that's actually so, why are they interviewing me?"

Because of an Feb. 15 league deadline to interview NFL assistants, Casserly says he wants to meet potential candidates now and bring back finalists later.

Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell was scheduled to visit Houston later this week. It was unclear whether Monday's firing of Buffalo head coach Wade Phillips would alter Cottrell's plans.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Dom Capers and University of Miami coach Butch Davis already have met with the Texans. Other candidates announced by Casserly are Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, former Atlanta offensive line coach Art Shell, Tampa Bay assistant head coach Herman Edwards and Chicago defensive coordinator Greg Blache.

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