Thursday, December 18, 2003

Fassel fired, but will finish Giants' season

NFL notebook

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Coach Jim Fassel knew what was coming, so he figured, why wait?

He asked the New York Giants to announce his firing now and allow him to coach the final two games of the season. They agreed.

"It's time. They need a change. I need a change. It's the right thing to do," Fassel said Wednesday.

After weeks of speculation about his future, Fassel requested a meeting with the owners Tuesday. He was told his seven-year tenure with the team was over.

Fassel leaves as the third-winningest coach (60-54-1) in the Giants' 79-year history - behind only Steve Owen and Bill Parcells.

A Super Bowl team three seasons ago, the Giants (4-10) were expected to contend this year but have lost six straight games and are last in the NFC East.

General manager Ernie Accorsi said the team has a list of potential replacements, but there is no timetable for hiring a new coach.

STEELERS: Jerome Bettis might be running for his job Sunday against San Diego. The No. 8 rusher in NFL history is set to make $3.62 million in 2004 and is coming off a second straight season in which he didn't gain 1,000 yards.

He needs 60 yards to pass Marcus Allen and move into seventh place on the NFL rushing list.

"It would be great to get the 60 yards here, so I'm definitely going to shoot for it," Bettis said.

Coach Bill Cowher hasn't said if he wants Bettis to return.

TITANS: Rookie quarterback Jason Gesser took all the snaps in practice while Steve McNair tossed a few balls and rested his ailing left ankle. The Titans want to sign Neil O'Donnell but are under salary-cap restrictions. Coach Jeff Fisher said the Titans could have just two quarterbacks Sunday when they visit Houston if they can't get a deal done quickly.

TEXANS: Quarterback David Carr was elevated to probable on the injury report and is likely to return to the lineup after missing four straight starts because of a sprained right shoulder.

BRONCOS: Running back Clinton Portis, who has a sprained right knee and ankle, was held out of practice and listed as questionable for Sunday's game at Indianapolis.

REDSKINS: Laveranues Coles has been playing with a stress fracture in his right foot. The team's leading receiver said he has been injured since the third game of the season, and that it has become "very painful" to run pass routes.

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