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Chargers, Falcons, Patriots and More

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 NFL News - Friday, January 25,2008
... Chargers, Falcons, Patriots and More...
***Next week NFL News will start mailing only on Wednesday***
Former President Clinton supports Giants in Super Bowl
Former President Bill Clinton will pull for the New York 
Giants in their Super Bowl matchup against the undefeated 
New England Patriots. "They're the underdog and they're my 
home team. But I'm glad the Patriots are undefeated and I'm 
glad that teamwork from both teams is back at the center of 
professional sports," Clinton told about 400 people Thursday 
in an elementary school auditorium as he campaigned for wife 
Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton at first joked he wouldn't 
answer the question when asked by a member of the crowd 
during a campaign stop because "New York, Massachusetts and 
Rhode Island are Hillary's three best states." He said it 
also was a tough decision to make because he plays golf with 
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and considers him a friend and 
"remarkable man."

Ollie Wilson returns to Chargers to coach running backs

Ollie Wilson, who coached LaDainian Tomlinson as a rookie, 
rejoined the San Diego Chargers as running backs coach Thursday.
Wilson spent the last six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He 
received a two-year contract to work under Norv Turner. The 
Chargers also agreed to new two-year contracts with special 
teams coach Steve Crosby, quarterbacks coach John Ramsdell 
and offensive line coach Hal Hunter Jr. Wilson previously 
coached with the Chargers from 1997-2001, under Kevin 
Gilbride, June Jones and Mike Riley. Under Wilson's tutelage 
in 2001, Tomlinson set team rookie records with 1,236 rushing 
yards, 10 touchdowns and 1,603 total yards from scrimmage. 
His scrimmage mark also broke Hall of Famer Lance Alworth's 
36-year-old team record.


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Falcons' new defensive coordinator leaves South Carolina after 
just 5 weeks

Brian VanGorder left South Carolina as defensive coordinator on
Thursday to take the same job with the Atlanta Falcons. VanGorder, 
48, spent last year as the Falcons' linebackers coach. South 
Carolina coach Steve Spurrier hired him as coordinator last 
month during Week 15 of the NFL season, but VanGorder worked 
Atlanta's last two games. The Falcons hired Mike Smith as head 
coach on Wednesday. Smith replaced Bobby Petrino, who abruptly 
left the Falcons last month after just 13 games of a 4-12 season.
VanGorder has held six jobs with four teams over the last five 
years. In 2004, he resigned after four seasons as defensive 
coordinator at Georgia. Smith was Jacksonville's defensive 
coordinator when VanGorder became the Jaguars' linebackers 
coach in 2005. VanGorder moved to Georgia Southern the next 
season, leading the Eagles to a 3-8 record as head coach.
"I worked with Brian in Jacksonville and have a tremendous 
amount of respect for him," Smith said. "He brings an 
aggressive approach that I'm sure will benefit our defense."
Petrino, who left the Falcons for Arkansas, lost his defensive 
coordinator on Thursday when South Carolina hired him in the 
same capacity. Ellis Johnson left Petrino's staff after just 
four weeks to replace VanGorder at South Carolina.


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Patriots place S Mel Mitchell on injured reserve

The Patriots placed backup safety Mel Mitchell on injured 
reserve Thursday with a biceps injury, sidelining the special 
teams player for the Super Bowl. Mitchell was inactive for 
last Sunday's 21-12 AFC championship game win over the San 
Diego Chargers after playing a week earlier in New England's 
31-20 divisional playoff victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. 
The Patriots face the New York Giants in the Super Bowl on 
Feb. 3. Mitchell spent all of last season, his first with the 
Patriots, on injured reserve with an arm injury. This season, 
he played in 11 games, including one in the playoffs, and had 
11 special teams tackles.

Cowboys hire ex-Browns defensive coordinator Todd Grantham

Todd Grantham was hired Thursday as the defensive line coach 
for the Dallas Cowboys, less than two weeks after the Cleveland 
Browns unexpectedly fired him from his job as defensive 
coordinator. Grantham has nine seasons of NFL coaching 
experience and spent the last three as defensive coordinator 
under Romeo Crennel in Cleveland. He is familiar with the 3-4 
alignment favored by Cowboys coach Wade Phillips, having 
coached it under Crennel and former Texans coach Dom Capers.
Grantham was also a defensive line coach with the Houston Texans 
and the Indianapolis Colts. "His familiarity with many of the 
things we do up front was important, but his experience as a 
coordinator is what elevated him in our eyes," Phillips said. 
"He knows and understands how one position group on the defense 
affects everything else that goes on in the scheme. You can 
only gain that type of knowledge of the big picture by actually 
creating a game plan and coordinating a defense, and I think 
it's a huge plus." Under Grantham, the Browns' defense was 
30th in total yards allowed in 2007, 27th in rushing defense, 
26th in sacks, 24th in passing defense, 21st in scoring defense 
and 14th in interceptions. Still, his dismissal from Cleveland 
was considered a surprise because the Browns' defense had 
improved late in the season. Grantham replaces Kacy Rodgers, 
one of four Cowboys coaches who left in a mass exodus to the 
Miami Dolphins. Also leaving Dallas for Miami to reunite with 
former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells were Paul Pasqualoni, Todd 
Bowles and Tony Sparano, the Dolphins' new head coach.
Parcells is Miami's new executive vice president of football 
operations and Jeff Ireland, the former Cowboys' VP of college 
and pro scouting, is the club's new general manager.
The Cowboys are still looking for a secondary coach and 
a linebackers coach.

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