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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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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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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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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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Beaers hire ex-CB Townsend as DBs coach

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears have hired former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend as defensive backs coach.

Townsend played on two Super Bowl championship teams with Pittsburgh and has spent eight years on NFL and college staffs. He was the New York Giants' assistant defensive backs coach this season.

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Newton, Miller finalists for Page Award

WASHINGTON (AP) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller are among five finalists for the NFL Players Association's Alan Page Community Award.

Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, New York Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum and Los Angeles Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth are also finalists for the award, which annually recognizes players for exceptional community service in their team cities and hometowns.

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Chiefs hoping to end Super Bowl drought

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The even-keeled executive with the crisp suit and winning smile stood inside the mostly empty Kansas City Chiefs locker room, his team having just won a home playoff game for the first time in 25 years.

He talked about how much it meant to their long-suffering fans. Spoke glowingly about coach Andy Reid, and his young superstar quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. He praised the rest of a team that captured its third straight AFC West title before knocking off the Colts in the playoffs.

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