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NFL Notebook

Pennington Sidelined by Stomach Virus

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 13, 2005; Page D08

Quarterback Chad Pennington missed the New York Jets' practice yesterday because of what the team described as a stomach virus, but Coach Herman Edwards indicated he expects Pennington to play in Saturday's AFC semifinal at Pittsburgh.

"If anything, he got a day to rest his arm,'' Edwards said at his news briefing.

____ The Road to Jacksonville ____
 NFL Playoffs
Jerome Bettis is a major reason the Steelers continue to roll.
Sally Jenkins: Don't let Bill Belichick's appearance fool you.
Notebook: Chad Pennington is expected to play Sunday.

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Peyton Manning's dreadful history vs. the Patriots contributed to the change in defensive contact rules.

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Sideline View: Like him or not, Randy Moss offers the Vikings their best hope of beating the Eagles on Sunday.

_____ What's Next? _____
Saturday
Jets at Steelers, 4:30 p.m.; CBS
Rams at Falcons, 8:30 p.m.; Fox
Sunday
Vikings at Eagles, 1 p.m.; Fox
Colts at Patriots, 4:30 p.m.; CBS

_____ First-Round Results _____
NFC
Vikings 31, Packers 17  |  Box
Rams 27, Seahawks 20  |  Box
AFC
Colts 49, Broncos 24  |  Box
Jets 20, Chargers 17 (OT)  |  Box

_____ Audio _____
Manning says avoiding turnovers is key in the playoffs.
Tony Dungy says Colts will enjoy their big victory for a bit.
Mike Tice says the Vikings relish their rematch with the Eagles.
QB Brett Favre talks about Green Bay's loss to the Vikings.

_____ The Chat House _____
Michael Wilbon offers his take on the playoffs. Read the transcript.

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_____Mark Maske's NFL Insider_____
(washingtonpost.com, Jan 13, 2005)
Effective Depth Buoys Resilient Steelers (washingtonpost.com, Jan 12, 2005)
Not the 'Greatest Show', but Still Dangerous (washingtonpost.com, Jan 11, 2005)

Pennington missed three games during the regular season because of a shoulder injury. In his second game back in the lineup, he threw three interceptions during the Jets' loss at Pittsburgh last month. The soundness of his shoulder has remained an issue, but he threw for 279 yards in the Jets' 20-17 overtime triumph at San Diego last weekend in a first-round playoff game. It was his highest passing-yardage total in a game since returning from his injury, and his highest in his three career postseason starts.

With backup quarterback Quincy Carter in Georgia to be with his ailing mother, Brooks Bollinger worked with the Jets' starting offense yesterday. . . .

Defensive end John Abraham participated in only portions of the Jets' practice. The Jets still don't know if he'll play in Pittsburgh after missing the final four regular season games and the win over the Chargers because of a sprained knee ligament.

"I think John will do the right thing," Edwards said earlier this week. "I always put it back on the players, and I think the players will do the right thing. And if they're team guys, they'll always do what's right for the team. Sometimes what's right for the team is not playing if you're not healthy." . . .

Edwards apologized to players this week for his sideline confrontation with his running backs coach, Bishop Harris, during the San Diego game.

Ravens Hire a Coordinator

The Baltimore Ravens moved quickly to fill their vacant offensive line coaching position, hiring former Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chris Foerster. Foerster, 43, replaces Jim Colletto, who was fired on Monday after six seasons.

Foerster, a 12-year NFL assistant, was not retained by new Dolphins coach Nick Saban. Foerster worked with Baltimore Coach Brian Billick during stints with Stanford (1988-91) and the Minnesota Vikings (1993-95). Billick gave him the additional title of assistant head coach.

"That was something that, when I came here, was not part of the deal," Foerster said at a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. "Brian and I started talking, and it was something he wanted to do. He wanted to give me a little more clout within the offensive staff, that I'm going to be a bigger part of it than just the line coach."

In Foerster's one season as offensive coordinator, Miami's offense ranked 29th in the NFL with an average of 275.2 total yards per game. But the Dolphins' offense was hamstrung by injuries and running back Ricky Williams's unexpected retirement during training camp. Foerster served as tight ends coach in Indianapolis (2002-03) and offensive line coach at Tampa Bay (1996-01) before moving to Miami.

Moss Sits Out Practice

Wide receiver Randy Moss sat out the Minnesota Vikings' practice because of his sprained ankle, but is expected to play Sunday at Philadelphia. . . .

The Eagles likely will be without linebacker Mark Simoneau because of an ankle injury suffered in the regular season finale. . . .

The status of New England Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour remained unclear for Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts because of his ailing knee. Seymour, who missed the regular-season finale, missed at least part of yesterday's practice and was listed on the team's official injury report as questionable.

Harrington Rumors Denied

The Detroit Lions denied a report that they are contemplating releasing quarterback Joey Harrington in the offseason. . . .

The San Francisco 49ers interviewed New York Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis for their head coaching job. They are to interview Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan today and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz on Friday. The 49ers already have interviewed Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger.

Staff writer Camille Powell contributed to this report.


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