AFC notebook

January 02, 2000|By Vito Stellino

East

Pete Carroll will likely be fired as coach of the Patriots after today's game with the Ravens, but he's not going out without a few shots at personnel director Bobby Grier. After Grier defended his drafts by saying some of the players haven't been given a fair chance by Carroll, the coach responded, "If it's obvious they [rookies] belong, they play. It was clear that [Andy] Katzenmoyer, [Damien] Woody and [Kevin] Faulk needed to be playing right away this year, but it hasn't always been obvious in all cases." Carroll pointed out that only two players from Grier's 1997 draft (defensive end Brandon Mitchell and free safety Chris Carter) are starting, and first-round pick Chris Canty has been cut. Grier's drafting is a sensitive subject in the Patriots' organization, because former coach Bill Parcells left, among other reasons, because owner Bob Kraft backed Grier when he wanted to take Terry Glenn with the first pick in 1996. Glenn played a major role in getting the Patriots to the Super Bowl that year, but has been inconsistent since and was suspended for the season finale for not showing up for treatment for a case of the flu. Marvin Harrison of the Colts had his 1998 season end prematurely when he suffered a shoulder separation diving for a catch against the Ravens. Harrison then told quarterback Peyton Manning, "When I come back, I'm going to come back on a mission, so be ready." Harrison, who has caught 111 passes for 1,616 yards, said, "I sort of kept my promise." He needs 13 catches against Buffalo today to break Herman Moore's NFL record of 123 set in 1995, when Scott Mitchell was throwing to him. Wade Phillips of Buffalo became the 14th NFL head coach since World War II to post 10 or more wins in his first two seasons. Miami, which had just two players named to the Pro Bowl in coach Jimmy Johnson's first three seasons, had three this year. Keyshawn Johnson of the Jets is wondering what the team would have done if Parcells had switched from Rick Mirer to Ray Lucas earlier in the season. "With all due respect to Rick, it was pretty bad here. You have to give Rick every opportunity to play and see what he could do because we traded for him. We tried to hang with him as much as possible, but we weren't getting anything done. I just wish that maybe we had done it earlier," Johnson said. Parcells said he didn't go with Lucas earlier because he did not have enough information on him.

Central

The Jaguars were pounded by the Titans last week, 41-14, but Jacksonville remained unconvinced even though it was swept by the Titans. "It's still the same Titans," Fred Taylor said. "We just didn't play well. I still say we're the better team." Naturally, the Titans weren't pleased with that attitude. Frank Wycheck said: "They had the No. 2 defense in the league, and we put 41 points up against it. If we can't get any type of respect after this game, then there's a problem. I think they were a little shell shocked.". Steelers coach Bill Cowher raised the possibility of Kordell Stewart seeing some action at quarterback against the Titans, but he's suffering from bronchitis and may not be able to bark out signals. Special teams ace Anthony Dorsett will start in Pittsburgh for Tennessee because Marcus Robertson is out. It's a homecoming for him because his father, Cowboys Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, is a native of the Pittsburgh area who played at Pitt, and Anthony was born there. Tremaine Mack of the Bengals has set a team record for kick returns for the second straight seasons, an indication that the Bengals are giving up too many points and receiving too many kickoffs.

West

Don't expect Phil Luckett and his crew to be working Seattle's game against the Jets today. Last year, Vinny Testaverde was stopped inches short of the goal line on the final play, but Luckett's crew gave him the touchdown and the win, a decision that helped bring back instant replay. "It's a big game for us," said Cortez Kennedy. "Last year, we felt we were cheated there.". The Chiefs' Andre Rison last week became the 12th player in NFL history to catch 700 passes. The Broncos have no intention of trading Olandis Gary when Terrell Davis comes back from his knee injury. Coach Mike Shanahan said he'll figure out how to use both players. "That's a dilemma you want," he said.

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