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Cowboys hire Brian Baker to coach defensive line

The Dallas Cowboys have hired former Carolina Panthers assistant Brian Baker as their defensive line coach, luring him away from the University of North Carolina.

Baker, a 15-year NFL coaching veteran, was with the Panthers the past two years. He had recently taken a job to coach the defensive line at North Carolina but returned to the NFL when the Cowboys called.

He was offered the job last week, but wanted to wait until after National Signing Day to make the announcement.

Baker has never coached the 3-4 defense or worked with new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

The Cowboys still need to hire a receivers coach to replace Ray Sherman, whose contract was not renewed.

It appears they are also hoping to make a move in the secondary, despite the continued presence on the staff of defensive backs coaches Dave Campo and Brett Maxie.

According to a source, the team is interested in Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach and former Cowboys player Ray Horton to run the secondary, a move that appears to be a long shot. Horton is the favorite to be the new defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.

Horton, who was contacted by the Cowboys about their defensive coordinator position before the hiring of Ryan, said last week that he would not come to Dallas as a secondary coach.

Still, the Cowboys' interest in Horton means that Campo could be re-assigned to another position.

-- Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Titans fire ill coach

Titans coach Mike Munchak has fired offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger as he starts to remake his coaching staff a day after taking over the top job from the fired Jeff Fisher.

Heimerdinger, who is continuing cancer treatment after being diagnosed in November, is under contract through the 2011 season and a team spokesman said the contract would be honored.

Heimerdinger kept coaching and didn't miss a game after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer the day before Thanksgiving.

Court backs NFL

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled there is no legal reason to grant Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams permanent relief from their NFL suspensions for violating the league's anti-doping policy.

The ruling appears to clear the way for the NFL to suspend the players, which it has been trying to do since both tested positive for a banned diuretic in 2008. The players have been fighting their suspensions and could appeal the latest decision to the state Supreme Court.

Packer fans celebrate

Giddy Green Bay Packers fans poured into the frigid Lambeau Field parking lots early Tuesday to fire up their grills and throw down beers in a final tailgate to cap a magical season that ended in Super Bowl victory.

At $5 each, the 50,000 tickets for Tuesday's "Return to Titletown" celebration at the stadium sold out in a matter of hours Monday.

Payton family move

Coach Sean Payton is moving his wife and two children to Dallas, a move that has upset many New Orleans Saints fans.

Payton was the Cowboys assistant head coach under Bill Parcells prior to taking the Saints job.

"When my wife and I relocated our family from Dallas, we had always dreamed of someday settling there," Payton said in a statement.

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