- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

From combined dispatches

The New England Patriots plan to put the franchise tag on quarterback Matt Cassel, according to a published report.

Cassel’s future hinges heavily on Tom Brady’s recovery from a season-ending knee injury in the first game this season.

Franchising Cassel would keep him from becoming an unrestricted free agent and give the Patriots an option if they feel Brady might not be ready for the start of the 2009 season. If they’re confident Brady will be ready, they would be able to trade Cassel.

The Patriots’ plan for Cassel was first reported by the National Football Post.

CHARGERS: A groin injury is dogging LaDainian Tomlinson to the point that he might have to sit out San Diego’s playoff game at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The star running back isn’t sure if a week’s worth of treatment and rest is going to be enough to allow him to play.

Also, a Florida man is suing San Diego running back Michael Bennett and a former Tampa Bay teammate, saying they attacked him at an International House of Pancakes.

Brian Gordon says Bennett, offensive lineman Anthony Davis and another man assaulted him in the restaurant parking lot in Tampa on Oct. 13.

STEELERS: James Harrison, the best player on the NFL’s best defense, won the Associated Press defensive player of the year award.

The linebacker had a career-high 16 sacks, setting a team record, and led the NFL with a career-high seven forced fumbles.

In other Pittsburgh news, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Monday he passed his final post-concussion test and will play when the Steelers host the San Diego Chargers.

The 26-year-old Roethlisberger left the Steelers’ final regular-season game Dec. 28 with a concussion just before halftime.

PACKERS: Green Bay has cleaned house, releasing defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and five other assistant coaches.

Also let go Monday were defensive ends coach Carl Hairston, defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn, secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer, nickel package/cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington and strength and conditioning coordinator Rock Gullickson.

Linebackers coach Winston Moss is the only major defensive coach to keep his job and is a likely candidate to take Sanders’ place.

CHIEFS: Scott Pioli, who helped build the New England Patriots’ dynasty, may have a second suitor among teams looking for general managers.

Pioli, 43, was scheduled to meet with Kansas City’s owner and board chairman Clark Hunt, persons with knowledge of the meeting told the Associated Press.

CARDINALS: Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin has a strained left hamstring, and his status is uncertain for Saturday night’s NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina.

“We’ll see how it goes this week,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said at his Monday news conference.

Boldin was injured on a 71-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Warner in the second quarter of Arizona’s 30-24 wild-card playoff victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Saturday.

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