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Cowboys fire much-maligned OC Linehan

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

DALLAS (AP) Scott Linehan is out as offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, less than a week after coach Jason Garrett sent mixed messages about the future for the oft-criticized assistant.

Garrett, in a statement released by the team Friday, described the move as a mutual decision after he and Linehan had some open and positive discussions this week. Linehan, who just completed his fifth season in Dallas, had one more season left on his contract.

"This was very much a mutual decision, and there was a great deal of common ground and shared understanding between both of us during our meetings," Garrett said. "Scott has had an incredibly positive impact on our football team. He has been instrumental in the development and success of a significant number of our veteran and younger players."

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Chiefs S Berry expects to play vs. Pats

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Chiefs safety Eric Berry sounded confident Friday that he'll be on the field when Kansas City plays the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game at Arrowhead Stadium.

The three-time All-Pro has been a full participant in practice this week after dealing with a heel injury, but needs the OK from coach Andy Reid to take the field on Sunday night.

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Record 135 leave college for NFL draft

NEW YORK (AP) A record number of college football players will bypass their remaining years of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

The 135 players forgoing eligibility surpasses the 119 from last year. The NFL released the official list on Friday. There are 103 underclassmen eligible for the April 25-27 draft. Another 32 players have graduated but still have college eligibility.

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Patriots playing up underdog role at KC

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) It may have been hard to hear him over the noise of the New England fans celebrating an eighth straight trip to the AFC title game, but Tom Brady is feeling disrespected.

That's right: The three-time NFL MVP and five-time Super Bowl champion told a national TV audience after demolishing the Los Angeles Chargers in the playoffs, "I know everyone thinks we suck and can't win any games.

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Rams' Talib key to slowing down Saints

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Rams realize they're heading into one of the NFL's most intimidating environments when they visit the top-seeded New Orleans Saints in the deafening Superdome for the NFC championship game.

Leave it to Aqib Talib, their voluble veteran cornerback, to remind his teammates about the upside of the New Orleans fans' famed investment in the game.

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Pats to test Chiefs' improved defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The only defense the Kansas City Chiefs played most of this season was, well, in defense of their own defense, which gave up so many yards and points that it became a running joke around the league.

Yes, the Chiefs scored in bushels. They also allowed points in bunches.

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Eagles WR Jeffery visits, thanks student

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has been getting lots of support from fans after dropping a critical pass in a playoff game, including from a second-grader who wrote him a supportive letter.

Jeffery stopped by Abigail Johnson's classroom in West Chester on Thursday to thank her and her classmates at Sarah Starkweather Elementary.

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Former Bengals QB Schonert dies at 62

CINCINNATI (AP) Quarterback Turk Schonert, who came off the bench and led the Cincinnati Bengals to an opening victory during their first Super Bowl season, has died suddenly near his home in South Carolina.

The Bengals were informed of Schonert's death, which came on Thursday two days after his 62nd birthday.

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Redskins add Kaczor to run special teams

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Nate Kaczor (KAT'-sir) has been hired by the Washington Redskins as their special teams coordinator.

The team announced the move Saturday.

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Browns add Lupoi, 6 others to staff

CLEVELAND (AP) New Browns coach Freddie Kitchens added seven assistants to his staff, including Tosh Lupoi, Alabama's defensive coordinator last season.

Lupoi will coach Cleveland's defensive line. He spent five seasons working under Nick Saban with the Crimson Tide, who were recently beaten by Clemson in the national championship game.

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