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Steelers' Rooney not expecting Brown to return

Steelers' Rooney not expecting Brown to return

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II said he still hasn't talked to disgruntled wideout Antonio Brown but has left the door open a crack for a reconciliation.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Pittsburgh-area media on Wednesday, Rooney discussed a number of topics, including the future of coach Mike Tomlin.

But much of the conversation focused on Brown.

Rooney said he would be willing to discuss Brown's return to the Steelers, but there are "not that many signs out there that that's going to happen." Rooney told reporters he and Brown have not talked since the end of the season and he doesn't expect him to return.

"I would have liked to have had the opportunity to talk to him and understand where he is," Rooney told the reporters. "Maybe that will happen at some point, who knows?"

Brown didn't play in Week 17 after missing multiple practices in the preceding week. Rooney said he wasn't a big distraction to the team until that week.

"I'm not gonna sit here and disparage Antonio," Rooney said during the session. "You have to remember he's been one of the most productive receivers in the league for a long time now. He's helped us win a lot of games over the last few years. Was it always done the way you'd like to see it done? No.

"But I don't think he was a major distraction to the team up until the last weekend of the season. The proof is in the pudding for the most part."

It is expected the Steelers will trade Brown, though Rooney said the team has not engaged in any trade talks.

Soon after Rooney talked with the media, Brown tweeted his intention to air his side in an interview.

"Clearly they feel indifferent about me seeing all these reports the big interview coming! watching my teammates, fans and organization show me how they really feel! Stay Woke," he wrote.

Brown caught 104 passes for 1,297 yards and a career-best 15 touchdowns in 2018. He has topped 100 receptions in each of the past six seasons and has seven 1,000-yard receiving campaigns during nine years with the Steelers.

Concerning another disgruntled player, Rooney said he never expected running back Le'Veon Bell would sit out the entire season in a contract dispute. Rooney said he is content with the Steelers' backfield situation, putting his trust in James Conner and Jaylen Samuels.

Tomlin also was a main discussion point, with Rooney not committing to an extension of his contract. The coach has two years left on his contract.

"Those are things we get to later in the offseason," Rooney said. "We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

The Steelers finished 9-6-1 this season and missed the playoffs, despite being in the driver's seat for a postseason berth much of the season. In his 12 seasons with the team, Tomlin has a 125-66-1 record.

Rooney added he doesn't expect any other coaches to depart, and that the Steelers will concentrate on filling staff vacancies.

He said a contract extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is an offseason priority, however.

Rooney also addressed the status of linebacker Ryan Shazier, who suffered a serious spinal injury 13 months ago. Shazier has maintained he wants to one day resume playing, and Rooney confirmed that Shazier continues to rehabilitate with the intention of putting on the uniform again.

Shazier will be a free agent in March, and Rooney said the team is willing to comply.

"To the extent he wants to do that, we're open to working that out," Rooney said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.

Jets put defense in Williams' hands

Jets put defense in Williams' hands

The New York Jets officially named Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator on Wednesday.

Williams spent the last two seasons in Cleveland, serving as defensive coordinator before taking over as interim head coach in midseason last year when the Browns fired Hue Jackson.

The Jets also confirmed that new head coach Adam Gase is retaining special teams coordinator Brant Boyer.

The well-traveled Williams, 60, returns to the AFC East for the first time since he was head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2001-03.

Williams was let go by the Browns last week after the team chose Freddie Kitchens as its next head coach. He went 5-3 while guiding Cleveland.

In 17 years as a defensive coordinator, Williams has called plays for six teams and is well known for his aggressive, attacking 4-3 schemes.

His units have ranked 11th or better in yards and points in the same season six times, though not since 2010 with the New Orleans Saints. He was infamously at the center of the Bountygate scandal in New Orleans, which led to a one-year suspension in 2012.

The Jets' defense has ranked 22nd or worse in points allowed in three straight seasons and 25th in yards allowed each of the last two years.

Falcons DE McKinley back home after mental evaluation

Falcons DE McKinley back home after mental evaluation

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley was back home in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday after being taken for a mental evaluation Tuesday by Los Angeles police.

"There is no reason to believe that this was anything serious," team spokesman Brian Cearns told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's back home in Oakland with his family."

Police were called to a Los Angeles hotel by a friend who was concerned about McKinley's well-being. The 23-year-old player was not arrested, as police encouraged him to seek help and he complied.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn addressed the situation Tuesday.

"Any time a situation occurs that is or could be related to mental health issues we take it very seriously," Quinn said in a statement. "We will do everything we possibly can to support and assist Takk, as our players' mental and physical well-being are always our top priority."

McKinley was the No. 26 overall pick by the Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft. The UCLA product agreed to a four-year, $10.2 million contract with the Falcons that included a $5.6 million signing bonus, according to Spotrac.

In 31 games over two seasons, he has recorded 42 tackles, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Patriots dialed in for Chiefs, championship game

Patriots dialed in for Chiefs, championship game

in 2014, the last time the Patriots traveled to Kansas City, apoplectic reaction went to parts unknown: speculation whether Tom Brady was finished and if his Lombardi-hoarding coach had lost his touch.

Two Super Bowl victories later, New England is again on rarely traveled ground, packing for another AFC Championship game as the underdog at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

"They're a well balanced, disciplined team. We'll need our best game," Belichick said Wednesday in Foxborough, Mass.

The Patriots need one win for their ninth Super Bowl appearance since 2000. Sunday will mark the eighth consecutive year New England has reached the conference title game. No other team has appeared in more than five in a row.

"I love to play in a championship game," Belichick said, shrugging off a question about preparing for gametime temperatures forecast to be at or below freezing. "Schedule it wherever you want. We'll be there."

The most recent forecast calls for a daytime temperature of 19 degrees.

Belichick has won a championship at the expense of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. New England won Super Bowl XXXIX over the Eagles, with Reid as Philadelphia's coach, following the 2004 season. The Patriots have 18 takeaways in eight games and a 6-2 record when Belichick opposes Reid.

Overall, Reid is 1-4 in championship games. Kansas City hasn't won the Super Bowl since 1970.

For all the playoff experience Brady and Belichick boast, not often has New England been asked to go on the road to earn a Super Bowl ticket. New England is 3-4 in postseason road games featuring Brady behind center.

"We're going to have to stop the whole offense, not just one player," Belichick said. "We're going to have to play good team defense."

Belichick is 8-4 in championship games and has 29 postseason wins as a head coach.

Kansas City was first in the NFL at 35.3 points per game in 2018. New England was fourth at 27.2.

Recent games have been shootouts. The Chiefs beat the Patriots 42-27 to open the 2017 season, and New England knocked off K.C. in October of the just-completed season, 43-40.

"They have a great offense, they have a great set of players," Belichick said. "Andy does a great job of forcing you to make choices, and spreading the ball around based on those choices. ... They lead the league in everything."

As for any lasting memories of the bloody Monday night in 2014 - a 41-14 loss in which New England trailed 27-0 and 41-7 - the Patriots are employing their usual short-term memory.

This week, they're on to Kansas City.

Report: Jaguars to hire DeFilippo as OC

Report: Jaguars to hire DeFilippo as OC

The Jacksonville Jaguars have chosen John DeFilippo as their offensive coordinator, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

"Doug Marrone took his time with such a key hire, but when the deal gets done, he'll have his guy," Rapoport tweeted Wednesday morning.

Marrone, the Jaguars head coach, also interviewed former NFL head coach Mike McCoy for the job, according to reports on Tuesday.

DeFilippo, 40, spent 2015 with the Cleveland Browns as offensive coordinator, then was the quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia in 2016-17. The Minnesota Vikings hired DeFilippo as offensive coordinator just days after the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, then fired him after a 21-7 loss to Seattle in Week 14.

Early in his career, he was in charge of offensive quality control with the New York Giants, working under head coach Tom Coughlin, who now is the Jaguars' vice president of football operations.

Report: Broncos close to hiring Scangarello as OC

Report: Broncos close to hiring Scangarello as OC

The Denver Broncos are close to hiring San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello as their offensive coordinator, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday.

Scangarello interviewed with new head coach Vic Fangio on Tuesday and returned for more talks Wednesday.

"Sources say his interview with Vic Fangio and others went well. The expectation, barring a snag in talks, is that he becomes the new #Broncos offensive coordinator," Rapoport tweeted.

Scangarello, 46, has never been a coordinator at the NFL level, but he held the OC position in the college ranks at Wagner in 2016 and at Northern Arizona from 2012-14.

He was the quarterbacks coach on coach Kyle Shanahan's 49ers staff the past two seasons. He earned praise for his work with rookie quarterback Nick Mullens and second-year signal-caller C.J. Beathard after starter Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending ACL injury in Week 3.

Scangarello's lengthy resume also includes stints as an offensive quality control coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2009 and the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.

Bills sign LB Alexander to one-year extension

Bills sign LB Alexander to one-year extension

The Buffalo Bills signed veteran linebacker Lorenzo Alexander to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday.

Alexander, 35, played in all 16 games in 2018 and registered 6.5 sacks, 74 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and a career-high two interceptions. He was set to become a free agent.

He originally signed with the Bills in 2016 after nine seasons with the Washington Redskins (2007-12), Arizona Cardinals (2013-14) and Oakland Raiders (2015). Buffalo re-signed him to a two-year, $9 million deal in March 2017.

Undrafted out of Cal in 2005, Alexander has been an incredible success story. He made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and again in 2016, when he was named the game's Defensive MVP.

Earlier this month, the team captain expressed his desire to remain with the Bills.

"Obviously, I'm invested," he told the media. "I've been here three years, I'm invested in the community. I'm invested in this team and this organization. I would like to be able to continue to play here and be able to retire here."

Seahawks DE Clark: 'I got no elbows'

Seahawks DE Clark: 'I got no elbows'

Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark said he played the final three games of the 2018 season at 60 percent due to torn ulnar collateral ligaments in his elbows.

"I wouldn't lie to you guys. I played the whole season at 60 percent," Clark wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. "Trust me I hit it well. Two torn UCL's in one season. Both against the Minnesota Vikings."

Clark was first on the injury report with an elbow injury in Week 2. The Seahawks played the Vikings in the preseason and again Dec. 10.

He said via Twitter on Tuesday, "I ain't have no elbows mane."

There was little sign of a slowdown from Clark, a player head coach Pete Carroll said last month would not be let out of Seattle as he approaches free agency in March.

"He is a Seahawk," Carroll said on ESPN 710 Seattle. "He ain't going anywhere. We aren't losing him."

Meeting with reporters later Monday, Carroll added, "We've got to figure [Clark's contract situation] out somehow. It's a big issue."

Clark, a 2015 second-round pick, is having a career season in the final year of his rookie deal. He has career highs of 13 sacks and 25 QB hits.

The 25-year-old told reporters in October there's no place he'd rather be than Seattle. Those comments came two days after Clark's agent told ESPN his client was in no hurry to sign an extension, as the defensive end planned to maximize his earnings on his next contract. As part of the patient approach, Clark has an insurance policy to guard against injury.

If the two sides are unable to reach a long-term deal before spring, the Seahawks will likely use the franchise tag on Clark, which would give him a one-year salary around $19 million. The sides would then have until mid-July to hammer out a long-term extension, or else have Clark play the 2019 season on the tag.

Clark has made about $3.7 million total over four years on his rookie contract.

Panthers weighing options for QB Newton

Panthers weighing options for QB Newton

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has not ruled out the possibility that quarterback Cam Newton might miss the 2019 season as he recovers from a right shoulder injury.

Tepper spoke Tuesday with reporters at Bank of America Stadium about the state of the Panthers, who finished their regular season at 7-9. Newton missed the final two games of the season because of a sore shoulder, which was surgically repaired two years ago.

A reporter asked Tepper to compare Newton's injury situation with that of Andrew Luck, who sat out the 2017 season because of a shoulder injury and came back strong this season.

"If you told me he took a year off and could recover and be fully recovered and everything else, and that's what it took, an extra year, why wouldn't you do (that)?" Tepper said. "Now, we would have to do other things, right? We'd have to go out and get another quarterback. If you could find me some more cap space, I'd appreciate that."

Newton, who will turn 30 in May, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has passed for 182 touchdowns and rushed for 58 more in his first eight seasons with Carolina. In 14 starts last season, he passed for 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while rushing for 488 yards and four scores.

If Newton opts for another surgery or simply decides to rest his arm, the Panthers could choose from several veteran quarterbacks to help fill the void. Nick Foles, Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick could be among the options.

"Hopefully, Cam's shoulder is fantastic, right?" Tepper said. "And we're hunky dory, all fantastic. If it's not, you may need more cap space. You may need to go out and find somebody. If you don't, you guys are going to be writing what a dope we are here. ... You want to put yourself as best you can in a position to win, and I'm talking for the long term."

NFL notebook: Eagles still committed to Wentz

NFL notebook: Eagles still committed to Wentz

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson didn't waste any time putting an end to speculation about the team's quarterback situation next year.

"Carson Wentz is the quarterback going forward," Pederson said at a press conference Tuesday. "And in Nick (Foles') case, listen, we'd love to have everybody back throughout the roster, but as I've said many times, it's not about one guy, it's about the team, and we're going to do what's best for the team."

Foles, 29, led the team in the postseason each of the past two years with Wentz out injured. The Eagles hold a $20 million option on Foles for 2019, but the quarterback can buy it out for $2 million to become a free agent, barring a franchise tag.

--The New York Jets will hire former Cleveland Browns interim coach Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, ESPN reported.

ESPN adds the Washington Redskins -- whose defense Williams coordinated from 2004-07 -- also pursued Williams, but the Jets had more interest. Washington still has Greg Manusky under contract as defensive coordinator, but reports have connected the team to various other options.

--The Denver Broncos agreed to hire former Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell as defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports.

Donatell has worked under Vic Fangio since 2011, when they were both in San Francisco. He also had two previous tenures in Denver as the secondary coach. Fangio is still expected to call plays on Sundays.

--The Arizona Cardinals are interviewing former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter for the same position, ESPN reported.

According to multiple reports, the Cardinals also interviewed John DeFilippo -- who has also interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars' opening -- on Sunday.

--The Jaguars are interviewing former Cardinals offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for the same position, ESPN reported.

McCoy, 46, was fired by the Cardinals in October, marking the second consecutive season in which he was fired midseason. The Broncos let him go midway through 2017.

--The Indianapolis Colts parted ways with offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, while assistant offensive line coach Bobby Johnson is leaving to take the lead job for the Buffalo Bills.

The Colts allowed an NFL-low 18 sacks in 2018, but DeGuglielmo is out after just one year because head coach Frank Reich wants to hire his own guy, NFL Network reported. DeGuglielmo was hired by Josh McDaniels last year before the latter backed out of the Colts' head job.

--The Dallas Cowboys will keep Marc Colombo as their offensive line coach full-time.

Colombo took over for Paul Alexander -- who was fired just seven games into his first year with the Cowboys -- at the end of October.

--The Browns are hiring Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Chris Jones, per multiple reports. TSN reports Jones will serve as senior defensive specialist.

Jones and new head coach Freddie Kitchens have a relationship dating back to 1997, when Jones was a graduate assistant at Alabama in Kitchens' final season at quarterback for the Crimson Tide.

--The Kansas City Chiefs activated right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif from injured reserve and waived safety Ron Parker.

Duvernay-Tardif landed on IR after sustaining a spiral fracture in his fibula in Week 5, an injury that required surgery.

--The New Orleans Saints signed free agent defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, per multiple reports.

Walker, 28, began his career in New Orleans as an undrafted free agent and played 23 games with the Saints from 2013-14. He'll help replace Sheldon Rankins (IR, Achilles).

--Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley was undergoing a mental evaluation after being detained by police in Los Angeles, according to TMZ Sports.

He reportedly was involved in an undisclosed incident at a hotel, and a friend who was with McKinley became worried and called the police. TMZ reported McKinley was not arrested. Instead, police encouraged him to seek help, and he agreed and went with police.

--The NFL announced the Los Angeles Chargers' and Dallas Cowboys' staffs will coach the Pro Bowl in Orlando on Jan. 27.

--Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will replace injured Chargers QB Philip Rivers in the Pro Bowl.

Other Pro Bowl replacements announced Tuesday included Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams (for Geno Atkins), 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (Fletcher Cox), Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (Luke Kuechly) and Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins (Landon Collins).

--John Parry will be the referee for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, his second Super Bowl as referee and third as an official.

--Longtime NFL coach Mike Smith announced on Sirius XM radio he is retiring to spend more time with his family.

--The San Francisco 49ers are hiring former Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods as their passing-game coordinator, per multiple reports.

--New York Giants rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense stemming from an October incident, ESPN reported.

49ers' Buckner replaces Eagles' Cox in Pro Bowl

49ers' Buckner replaces Eagles' Cox in Pro Bowl

San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman DeForest Buckner is Pro Bowl-bound for the first time in his three-year NFL career.

Buckner was selected to take the place of Philadelphia defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who is out due to a right foot injury that limited him Sunday in the Eagles' 20-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints in a divisional playoff game.

A 24-year-old Hawaii native, Buckner finished this season with a career-high 12 sacks plus 67 tackles and three passes defensed. He started all 16 games for the 49ers, and he has missed just one start in his pro career. Buckner has 21 career sacks.

The 49ers selected Buckner with the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Oregon, where he was the 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

Buckner joins two San Francisco teammates, fullback Kyle Juszczyk and tight end George Kittle, in the all-star game to be played Jan. 27 at Orlando, Fla.

Cox, 28, had been elected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth year in a row in his seventh NFL season. Starting every game for the defending Super Bowl champions, he notched 10.5 sacks, 46 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. He had five tackles (one for a loss) in two playoff games this month.

A Mississippi State product, the Eagles made Cox the 12th overall selection in the 2012 draft. He has 44.5 career sacks.

Arians: Steelers WR Brown has become 'diva'

Arians: Steelers WR Brown has become 'diva'

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians used to have a close-up view of Pittsburgh star wide receiver Antonio Brown when he served as the Steelers' offensive coordinator.

Now his view is from afar, and he isn't so impressed with Brown's actions or behavior.

"There's too much miscommunication, too much ... diva," Arians said Tuesday on The Adam Schefter Podcast. "I've heard so many stories -- I like Antonio -- he plays as hard as anybody on Sunday and he practices hard.

"He's just gotta make better decisions off the field, be on time, do some of those little things."

Arians was around for Brown's first two seasons in Pittsburgh. The Steelers drafted Brown in the sixth round out of Central Michigan in 2010 and Arians was impressed with his hunger to become good.

"He was the hardest working," Arians said. "He and Emmanuel Sanders. Boy, they went after it because (coach) Mike Tomlin used to tell them, 'two dogs, one bone.' And at that time we had Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, I mean we had a pretty good run for one of them to get on the field. By the end of the season, they were both winning for us to go to the Super Bowl."

Arians left the Steelers following the 2011 campaign to become offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts. He served as interim head coach for most of 2012 while Chuck Pagano was battling cancer, was the Arizona Cardinals head man from 2013-17 and sat out the 2018 season before becoming head coach of the Buccaneers.

Meanwhile, Brown's future in Pittsburgh is uncertain after his Week 17 antics infuriated the organization. Brown reportedly skipped meetings and practices and didn't return Tomlin's calls.

When Brown showed up for the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, Tomlin informed him that he wouldn't be playing.

Last week, team president Art Rooney II said it would be "hard to envision" Brown being part of the team when it opens training camp in July.

Report: Falcons DE McKinley sent for mental evaluation

Report: Falcons DE McKinley sent for mental evaluation

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takkarist McKinley was undergoing a mental evaluation Tuesday after being detained by police in Los Angeles, according to TMZ Sports.

He reportedly was involved in an undisclosed incident at a hotel, and a friend who was with McKinley became worried and called the police.

TMZ reported that he was not arrested. Instead, police encouraged him to seek help, and he agreed and went with police.

McKinley, 23, was the No. 26 overall pick by the Falcons in the 2017 NFL Draft. A UCLA product, he agreed to a four-year, $10.2 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, which included a $5.6 million signing bonus, according to Spotrac.

In 31 games over two seasons, he has recorded 42 tackles, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen missed several games this season as he dealt with a mental health issue.

Eagles' Jenkins added to NFC Pro Bowl roster

Eagles' Jenkins added to NFC Pro Bowl roster

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins was named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, replacing New York Giants safety Landon Collins, who will miss the game after undergoing shoulder surgery.

It will be the third Pro Bowl appearance as a member of the Eagles for Jenkins, 31, after a season in which he had 97 tackles, a sack, an interception and three forced fumbles.

Jenkins will join Eagles tight end Zach Ertz in the Jan. 27 game at Orlando, Fla. Philadelphia guard Brandon Brooks and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox were also named to the NFC team but are being replaced because of injuries.

Jenkins, in his 10th season out of Ohio State, has 17 career interceptions, 14 forced fumbles and six touchdowns.

Collins, 25, in his fourth season out of Alabama, had 67 tackles in 12 games and a forced fumble. He has eight career interceptions, three forced fumbles and a touchdown.

Other Giants players who will participate in the Pro Bowl include running back Saquon Barkley, linebacker Olivier Vernon and kicker Aldrick Rosas.

The defending champion Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs after a loss Sunday at New Orleans. In two playoff games, Jenkins recorded 15 tackles.

Browns reportedly add CFL head coach to staff

Browns reportedly add CFL head coach to staff

The Cleveland Browns officially announced on Monday a list of assistant coaches to work with new head coach Freddie Kitchens, but they apparently have another name to add.

According to multiple reports Tuesday night, Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach and general manager Chris Jones is leaving his position and will join the Cleveland staff.

Davis Sanchez of Canadian sports network TSN said Jones will serve as senior defensive specialist.

Jones and Kitchens have a relationship that dates back more than 20 years. Jones, a Tennessee native, was a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1997, which was Kitchens' final season at quarterback for the Crimson Tide.

Jones, 51, began coaching in the Canadian Football League in 2002 and was a part of four Grey Cup-winning teams. He was the CFL Coach of the Year in 2018.

The Browns have not confirmed Jones' hiring, but they did confirm the following members of Kitchens' staff on Monday: Todd Monken, offensive coordinator; Steve Wilks, defensive coordinator; Mike Priefer, special teams coordinator; James Campen, offensive line/associate head coach; Jody Wright, special assistant to the head coach; Ryan Lindley, quarterbacks; Stump Mitchell, running backs/run-game coordinator; and Jim Dray and Tyler Tettleton, offensive quality control.

The team is also reportedly interviewing former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Al Holcomb for a spot on Kitchens' staff.

Holcomb, 48, spent five years as the Carolina Panthers' linebackers coach before getting his first coordinator job last year.

Cowboys retain OL coach Colombo full-time

Cowboys retain OL coach Colombo full-time

The Dallas Cowboys will keep Marc Colombo as their offensive line coach full-time, the team announced Tuesday, after he impressed during the second half of the 2018 season.

The Athletic reports the Cowboys gave Colombo, whose deal had expired, a three-year contract.

Colombo took over for Paul Alexander -- who was fired just seven games into his first year with the Cowboys -- at the end of October, and the line improved despite nagging injuries to left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin, as well as the absence of center Travis Frederick. Hudson Houck, a former Dallas O-line coach who returned in an advisory role after Alexander's firing, told The Athletic he will not return to the team.

Some speculated the Cowboys could have a tough time retaining Colombo if the Miami Dolphins' expected next head coach, current New England Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, wanted to hire him. Flores and Colombo were teammates at Boston College from 1999-2001.

Colombo, 40, played offensive tackle for the Cowboys from 2005-10 as part of a 10-year NFL career. He joined the Cowboys' staff as an assistant in 2015 and was promoted to assistant offensive line coach in 2016.

Cowboys LB Vander Esch replacing Kuechly in Pro Bowl

Cowboys LB Vander Esch replacing Kuechly in Pro Bowl

Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is headed to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, the Cowboys announced Tuesday.

Vander Esch, who turns 22 in February, set a Cowboys rookie record -- by the team's measurement -- with 176 tackles despite starting just 11 games. (The NFL officially credited Vander Esch with 140.) He filled in for injured linebacker Sean Lee and then kept the starting job when Lee returned, chipping in two interceptions and seven passes defensed.

Drafted 19th overall last April, Vander Esch becomes the seventh rookie from the 2018 class to earn a Pro Bowl selection, joining running backs Saquon Barkley and Phillip Lindsay, guard Quenton Nelson, cornerback Denzel Ward, safety Derwin James and punter Michael Dickson.

Kuechly was not known to be dealing with an injury, but the NFL does not hold players to high standards to skip the Pro Bowl, which will be Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla. The 27-year-old missed just one practice all season, a veteran rest day leading up to Week 16.

Ex-Bucs DC Smith done with coaching

Ex-Bucs DC Smith done with coaching

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator and Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith announced Tuesday on Sirius XM radio he is retiring from NFL coaching.

"I've been very blessed to have the opportunity to coach in the National Football League, and I've enjoyed every minute of it," Smith said. "I think, for me and my family, it's time for us to look at some adventures and have a lot of things that we'd like to do, that I'd like to do. I'm looking forward to watch those adventures bring because it's going to be a lot of fun. I've been in this league and coached a long time, and I think it's time to go do something different."

Smith, 59, was fired by the Buccaneers in mid-October after ranking 31st in yards allowed and dead last in yards per play and points allowed through six weeks of the season. The group, which was led the rest of the way by linebackers coach Mark Duffner, ultimately finished 31st in points allowed and 27th in yards.

Smith had joined the Bucs as defensive coordinator in 2016 -- following a year away from coaching -- and his unit hit a hot streak in the second half of that season, but it slipped to last in yards and 22nd in points in 2017.

Before joining Tampa Bay, Smith spent seven years (2008-2014) as the Falcons' head coach, going 66-46 in the regular season and 1-4 in the playoffs. He led the team to 56 wins in his first five seasons, but Atlanta blew a 17-0 lead in the NFC Championship Game after the 2012 season and then won just 10 games over the next two years.

Smith also spent five years (2003-2007) as the Jacksonville Jaguars' defensive coordinator.

Ravens DT Williams replaces Atkins in Pro Bowl

Ravens DT Williams replaces Atkins in Pro Bowl

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams was named to his first career Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Tuesday afternoon.

The six-year veteran will replace Cincinnati Bengals tackle Geno Atkins, who is unable to participate due to injury.

"Thank you to the fans and NFL colleagues who voted for me," Williams said in a statement. "It is an honor to represent the city of Baltimore and the Ravens organization. My wife and I couldn't hold back our tears of excitement and joy to know that after six wonderful years in the NFL, and with God's guidance, we have reached our goal of getting selected to the Pro Bowl!

"I couldn't be more appreciative and thankful to everyone who has had a hand or vote in getting my dream to come true, and I look forward to playing the game in Orlando. I vowed to myself and to my wife that we could not take a trip to Hawaii until after I went to the Pro Bowl. Honey, pack your bags!"

Williams posted 34 tackles (three for loss), one sack and one pass defensed on the season. Since the 29-year-old became a starter in 2014, the Ravens have allowed an NFL-low 95.1 rushing yards per game.

Williams will join teammates Eric Weddle, C.J. Mosley and Marshal Yanda for the NFL's annual all-star showcase in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 27.

Report: Broncos interviewing Donatell for DC

Report: Broncos interviewing Donatell for DC

The Denver Broncos are interviewing Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell for their defensive coordinator opening Tuesday, 9News Denver reported.

Donatell was one of new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio's top assistants in Chicago. He interviewed for the Bears' coordinator position after Fangio left for Denver, but that job went to Chuck Pagano.

With his contract expired, Donatell is now reportedly choosing between the Broncos and Bears, who want him back as DBs coach. In Denver, Donatell would have the coordinator title, though Fangio plans to call plays on Sundays.

The Broncos also announced Tuesday they have hired former Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley for the same position in Denver, after he spent two years under Fangio in Chicago.

Per 9News Denver, the Broncos are continuing to interview San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello on Tuesday for their opening at offensive coordinator, after beginning the process Monday.

There have been no other reported candidates for the offensive or defensive coordinator positions. Gary Kubiak was expected to fill the former before philosophical differences disrupted the plan, and he has since been hired by the Minnesota Vikings.