Dick Jauron, the Detroit Lions' interim coach, yesterday named Jeff Garcia the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Jauron had said Monday, when he was promoted from defensive coordinator to replace the fired Steve Mariucci, that he didn't know whether Garcia or Joey Harrington would start. Harrington started the Lions' last four games, including the Thanksgiving day loss to the Atlanta Falcons that led to Mariucci's ouster, after Garcia aggravated leg injuries he suffered during preseason.

Jauron also told reporters that cornerback Dre' Bly apologized to the team yesterday for public comments he made in the aftermath of Mariucci's firing. Bly, among other things, blamed Mariucci's dismissal on Harrington's poor play.

Specter Backpedals

Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) said earlier in the week that he might ask the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee to look into whether the Philadelphia Eagles' deactivation of wide receiver Terrell Owens for the remainder of the season violates antitrust law.

But Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the panel is too busy to take up the matter and he instead had discussed the issue with attorneys in the antitrust division of the Justice Department.

"I think it is better left to them rather than to the Judiciary Committee because of our heavy workload," Specter said in a written statement. . . .

St. Louis Rams President John Shaw told the Associated Press he'd be "totally shocked" if Coach Mike Martz is cleared by doctors to return to the team this season. Martz has sent mixed signals this week about whether he will attempt to come back this season. He told KMOV-TV in St. Louis that he feels good and would like to coach again this season if he receives medical clearance. But he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that, while he'd like to be working, he doesn't want to risk a setback in his recovery from a bacterial heart infection and will stick to his plan of sitting out the rest of the season.

He has been on a leave of absence for six games, and interim coach Joe Vitt has led the club to a 3-3 record. The Rams just reworked Vitt's contract to give him a raise to reflect his added responsibilities. The friction between Martz and the Rams' front office has been on display during his leave of absence, including an incident in which he was denied telephone access to coaches when he tried to pass along a play call during a game. It is unclear if Martz will be retained next season for the final year of his contract.