Although marquee players such as QB Steve Young, RB Terrell Davis, WR Michael Irvin, RB Jamal Anderson and QB Vinny Testaverde had season-ending injuries, there were fewer players sidelined in 1999 than in the previous year.

According to the survey published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, 364 NFL players missed 1,061 games because of injuries this season, down from 398 players sidelined for 1,340 games. Two seasons ago, 335 players missed 937 games.

COMINGS AND GOINGS: Vikings GM Tim Connolly resigned, the same day the team hired two former Packers coaches, including Emmitt Thomas. . . .

The Buccaneers declined to exercise a $4.6 million option on Trent Dilfer's contract, allowing the 27-year-old QB to become an unrestricted free agent.

BRONCOS NEWS: WR Rod Smith denied charges he beat, choked and dragged his common-law wife during a dispute in their suburban home.

Smith was arrested Monday after surrendering to the Douglas County Sheriff's Department. He was released on $5,000 bond and is scheduled for a pretrial conference Feb. 2, Sgt. Attila Denes said.

BELICHICK DENIED: A federal judge denied Bill Belichick's request for a temporary restraining order that would free the former Jets assistant coach from a decision by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and allow him to seek a new job.