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Friday's NFL: Cowboys fire defensive coordinator Mike Nolan

Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Friday after their defense allowed a franchise record in points and finished 31st in the NFL against the run in his only season.

Coach Mike McCarthy hired Nolan from New Orleans, where he was coaching linebackers, when McCarthy replaced Jason Garrett a year ago. They worked together for a season in San Francisco in 2005, when Nolan was coach and McCarthy was his offensive coordinator and the 49ers finished 4-12.

The Cowboys have fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after their defense allowed a franchise record in points and finished 31st in the NFL against the run in his only season, the team announced Friday.

Dallas also fired defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, another former San Francisco coach.

“I am appreciative of my relationships with both Mike and Jim,” McCarthy said. “These are never easy decisions to make.”

The Cowboys tried to implement a new scheme despite having no in-person time with players during the offseason because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Browns roster still in flux

Kevin Stefanski is still stuck in his basement at home. At least the Browns are out and about.

Well, most of them.

After being unable to practice for two days due to COVID-19 testing and protocols, Cleveland got permission from medical experts and the NFL to get on the field Friday for the first time this week in advance of Sunday’s wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The team resumed normal activities — by 2021 standards — at its training facility, which has been closed since Tuesday when coach Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 along with Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and three others.

“That’s much better than being on these Zoom calls,” said Stefanski, who won’t coach Sunday’s game because league rules state anyone testing positive with the virus must isolate for 10 days. “They’re excited to get out there.”

Stefanski, who will be replaced by special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, opened his news conference with a rundown of Cleveland’s injury list, which includes star defensive end Myles Garrett and right tackle Jack Conklin, both picked as AP All-Pros.

Garrett is questionable with a shoulder issue, but Stefanski said he’s confident the edge rusher along with stout defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (neck) will play. 

Conklin is out with an “illness,” but Stefanski could not say whether Conklin is experiencing COVID-like symptoms.

All-Pro selections

Dynamic defensive star Aaron Donald and unstoppable tight end Travis Kelce were unanimous choices for the Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was selected for the third time, finishing ahead of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in voting from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Last season’s Super Bowl MVP shared second-team honors with Josh Allen of Buffalo.

Tennessee running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 2,027 yards to win his second consecutive rushing title, was named All-Pro for the first time after leading the AFC South champion Titans to their first division title in 12 years.

Donald, who has helped the Los Angeles Rams to the top-ranked defense in the NFL, earned his sixth All-Pro selection. It was the third for Kansas City’s record-setting Kelce.

Bears face injuries

The Chicago Bears might have to get by without some important players in their wild-card game against the New Orleans Saints, after leading tackler Roquan Smith and rookie receiver Darnell Mooney missed practices all week because of injuries.

Both were listed as questionable for Sunday, as was cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

Wild-card round


Indianapolis at Buffalo, 1:05 

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle, 4:40 

Tampa Bay at Washington, 8:15 


Baltimore at Tennessee, 1:05 

Chicago at New Orleans, 4:40 

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 8:15