- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2001

Washington Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer hired a position coach yesterday but said the search for a defensive coordinator will go into next week, as expected.

Schottenheimer, who leaves today for the Super Bowl, named Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Joe Pendry offensive line coach. But Schottenheimer did not hire a defensive coordinator despite spending much of the day with his brother, Kurt.

Meanwhile, cornerback Deion Sanders signed a non-guaranteed minor league baseball contract with Class AAA Louisville, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Sanders, 33, will report to Sarasota, Fla., for spring training March 4.

Also, the Redskins released a tentative preseason schedule that holds an intriguing debut for Marty Schottenheimer: Aug. 10 at Kansas City, where he coached 10 seasons. Washington will play Atlanta on Aug. 17 and Cleveland on Aug. 24 at FedEx Field and at New England on Aug. 31. Nothing has been finalized for a game overseas.

Other candidates for the top defensive post include former Arizona coach Vince Tobin and former Buffalo coach Wade Phillips, both of whom were contacted by phone Tuesday. Phillips is expected to interview Monday, and Schottenheimer will conduct no other interviews before then.

Kurt Schottenheimer also is a candidate to coach a defensive position for the Redskins, either linebackers or defensive backs, and to join several other NFL teams, including the Jets as defensive backs coach.

Pendry, 53, replaces Russ Grimm, who spent 20 years as a Redskins player and coach before being fired by Schottenheimer. Ironically, Pendry was Grimm's position coach at the University of Pittsburgh in 1979. That was the last time Pendry coached the line per se, though Schottenheimer believes Pendry is well-suited to return to the position.

"He's a guy with a tremendous breadth and understanding of all aspects of offensive play," Schottenheimer said. "He was involved with us in Cleveland and Kansas City, when we had tremendous success running the football, and he's always stayed abreast of the technical and fundamental side of offensive line play. In addition, he's one of the finest talent evaluators I've ever been around. I feel the transition for him will be quite seamless."

Pendry's NFL experience and background with Schottenheimer began in 1985 at Cleveland, where Pendry was running backs coach. He became offensive coordinator in 1988, then moved with Schottenheimer to Kansas City in 1989 before being fired following the 1992 season. Pendry returned to the coordinator post for three seasons at Carolina (1995-97).

The Bills' offense finished no worse than 12th in three seasons under Pendry, with a ranking of sixth in 1998 and ninth last season. However, Phillips' loyalty to several assistants, including Pendry, led to Phillips' firing earlier this month.

Also hired by Schottenheimer were assistant strength and conditioning coach Matt Schiotz and director of football administration Russ Ball.

With regards to Sanders, Schottenheimer declined last night to take a position on the baseball deal.

"At this point, I haven't had the opportunity to speak to Deion," Schottenheimer said. "I'm not in position to comment one way or another. Something of this nature would require me to talk to him."

Former coach Norv Turner never considered Sanders' baseball career an issue, but then Sanders participated in Redskins training camp because he had quit his comeback attempt to baseball in the spring.

Sanders opened the 1999 baseball season in Louisville, batted .200 and decided to go home rather than to continue playing in the minors. Reds general manager Jim Bowden gave him permission to return to Texas on May 11. Shortly after, Sanders declined to return when Reds outfielder Alex Ochoa had an emergency appendectomy and went on the disabled list.

Sanders then signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with the Redskins on June 6, following his release from the Dallas Cowboys for salary cap reasons. Sanders' cap figure for 2001 is $4.643 million, fourth highest on the team. When the subject of baseball came up in the season's final week, Sanders left open the possibility of another comeback.

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