Flowery Branch, Ga. Falcons quarterbacks coach Jack Burns was fired Friday after a season in which he helped Michael Vick earn a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Burns had been on the Atlanta staff since Dan Reeves was hired as coach six years ago. Burns worked with quarterbacks in 1997-98 and 2001-02. He coached receivers in 2000 and was in charge of the passing game and play-calling in 1999.
"It's one of those things that happened," Burns said. "Dan's decided to go in another direction."
Reeves did not announce a replacement, but first-year receivers coach Mike Johnson could be a leading candidate. Johnson coached San Diego quarterbacks in 2000 and 2001.
The 54-year-old Burns disputed suggestions that he became a scapegoat for the team's offensive struggles after a 20-6 loss to Tampa Bay dropped Atlanta to 1-3.
Atlanta was 14th in total offense (345.9 yards) and 22nd in passing (211.5).
Ricks signs with Lions
Allen Park, Mich. -- Tight end Mikhael Ricks re-signed with the Detroit Lions on Friday, agreeing to a three-year contract after a season in which he was a Pro Bowl alternate. Ricks averaged 12.6 yards a catch, tops in the league at his position. He had 27 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns.
During his five-year NFL career, Ricks has played in 68 games and has 118 receptions for 1,505 yards and six touchdowns. He played with Kansas City before signing a one-year contract with the Lions last April.
Sapp named in suit
Camden, N.J. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp faces a third paternity test to determine whether he is the father of a New Jersey woman whose mother has filed suit seeking child support payments.
Chantel Adkins said Sapp is the father of her daughter, Autumn Jade Adkins Sapp, who was born Nov. 21, 2000. In addition to child support, Adkins is seeking payment for pregnancy-related expenses.
Two DNA tests have been done. The first showed Sapp was not the girl's father. The second showed he was.
Bengals' coach retires
Cincinnati -- Kim Wood retired after 28 years as the Bengals' strength and conditioning coach, a sign new coach Marvin Lewis will have greater authority in hiring his staff. Numerous players had complained about Wood, who joined the team in 1975. They contended he was a mainstay because of his favor with the front office.
Niners drop coaches
Santa Clara, Calif. -- San Francisco fired three assistants on Friday, two days after coach Steve Mariucci was dismissed. Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven, linebackers coach Richard Smith and secondary coach Brett Maxie were let go. The 49ers fired Mariucci after a 10-6 regular season and a 31-6 loss to Tampa Bay in the second round of the playoffs.
Brooks' surgery OK
New Orleans -- Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks underwent surgery Friday to reattach a tendon in his right shoulder. The procedure was successful and Brooks is recovering, general manager Mickey Loomis said.
Vikings hire Tillman
Minneapolis -- The Minnesota Vikings hired Rusty Tillman on Friday to coach a special teams unit beset by problems this season. He replaces Jay Hayes, who left after his only season with the Vikings to become defensive line coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Miller wants new deal
Cleveland -- Linebacker Jamir Miller is trying to get a long-term deal from the Browns despite missing this season because of a torn Achilles' tendon. Leigh Steinberg, Miller's agent, said Friday that he plans to begin negotiations with the Browns about re-signing the 29-year-old Miller, who was injured in the exhibition opener last summer.
Cowboys hire DeHaven
Irving, Texas -- Bill Parcells hired Bruce DeHaven as the Dallas Cowboys' special teams coach Friday, ending the long tenures of Joe Avezzano and Bill Bates. Avezzano had been with the Cowboys since 1990.
Jurevicius leaves Bucs
Philadelphia -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Joe Jurevicius left the team Friday to join his wife in Ohio after she gave birth a month prematurely. Coach Jon Gruden said he thought Jurevicius would be back for the NFC championship.