Without a sack or an interception in the last nine quarters, the Chargers yesterday fired defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and replaced him with inside linebackers coach Ron Rivera.
Cottrell had become a popular target of fan ire as San Diego (3-5) lost three of its last four games, including a 37-32 loss to former teammate Drew Brees and the Saints in London Sunday.
That game was indicative of the Chargers' defensive shortcomings, with no pressure on the quarterback and a lot of passing yards.
Coach Norv Turner decided after the game that Cottrell had to go, and informed him Monday morning.
"Probably the things that we have needed to improve in are the same things that affected us in Week 2 and so on," Turner said. "The same things have been an issue throughout the first eight games, at different times."
As for the game in London, Saints coach Sean Payton criticized the way the NFL handled some things about the contest, citing "sloppy" field conditions and a cramped flight home on a plane "that was over 30 years old."
Saint files suit
Saints offensive guard Jamar Nesbit
filed suit against the maker of a weight-loss supplement, alleging it was improperly spiked with a diuretic that is banned by the NFL. The lawsuit against the makers of StarCaps, an over-the-counter product, was filed in federal district court in New Jersey, said Nesbit's attorney. Nesbit returned last week from a four-game suspension levied after he tested positive for Bumetanide, a substance that helps rid the body of excess water and salt. The NFL considers the substance a possible masking agent for steroids. It is the same substance for which several other players around the league reportedly have tested positive, including three other Saints: running back Deuce McAllister
and defensive ends Will Smith
and Charles Grant
. . . Defensive end Bruce Smith
, defensive back Rod Woodson
, and tight end Shannon Sharpe
are among first-year candidates for induction into the Hall of Fame . . . Jets executives announced the results of an unprecedented online personal seat license auction; the team sold 620 PSLs in its new stadium for $16 million. That figure was reached even though the nine-day sale occurred as the stock market plunged; however, more than two-thirds of the seats originally up for bid went unpurchased.
Hasselbeck: 'Dead leg'
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck
said a doctor has not cleared him to play because of a leg problem stemming from a bulging disk in his back. Hasselbeck told KIRO radio he does not need surgery, but he said he failed tests in Los Angeles and was unable to walk on his heels. He says there's no pain in his back or right leg, just a "dead" feeling. It appears he will miss his fourth consecutive game Sunday . . . Cowboys tight end Jason Witten
has a broken rib but could play Sunday against the Giants. Witten tried to return after injuring his ribs last weekend against Tampa Bay, but he sat out most of the second half. He could wear added protection against the Giants . . . The Falcons are sending rookie lineman Sam Baker
to a pair of specialists after an injured hip failed to improve with treatment. Baker, a first-round pick who had been starting at left tackle, will not play Sunday at Oakland.
Tomlin defends decision
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
vigorously defended his decision to use Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison
as an emergency long snapper Sunday against the Giants. Tomlin denied the team didn't have an emergency snapper ready after Greg Warren
tore a knee ligament, saying two linebackers - Harrison and James Farrior
- practiced the specialist's role. Harrison's snap sailed over punter Mitch Berger's
head for a tying safety in the fourth quarter. Given excellent field position following the ensuing free kick, the Giants drove for the decisive touchdown and took a 21-14 victory. Tomlin also said the Steelers won't further punish wide receiver Santonio Holmes
for being charged last week with a marijuana-related offense and plan to start him Monday night in Washington. Holmes was not in uniform for the Steelers' loss to the Giants . . . The NFL's last undefeated team wanted to make a statement at the expense of the Colts. The Titans - yes, the Titans - did just that Monday night in Nashville to grab a stranglehold on the AFC South. Chris Hope
intercepted Peyton Manning
twice, and the Titans scored 25 straight points in rallying from a 14-6 second-half deficit in a 31-21 win.
Culpepper, Lions talkESPN.com
reported that quarterback Daunte Culpepper
visited the Lions yesterday morning and has initiated contract negotiations following a workout . . . The Jets placed running back Jesse Chatman
(knee) and rookie quarterback Erik Ainge
(foot) on injured reserve . . . The Cardinals signed former Patriots tight end Stephen Spach
and released safety Oliver Celestin
. . . Karl Kassulke
, a former Pro Bowl safety with the Vikings whose career ended when he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident, has died from a heart attack. He was 67. Kassulke died in his Eagan, Minn., home Sunday.
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