Broncos' collapse results in firing


Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

DENVER — The Denver Broncos fired defensive coordinator Larry Coyer on Tuesday, nine days after a once-promising season sputtered to a close with five losses in seven games.

Coyer oversaw a defense that started this season by becoming the first team in 64 years to not allow a touchdown over the first 11 quarters.

But the squad faltered, finishing 14th in the league in yards allowed as the Broncos stumbled from a 7-2 start to finish 9-7.

"I have the highest regard for him (Mike Shanahan) and have no choice but to accept his decision and do so with as much dignity and grace as I can muster," Coyer said in a prepared statement.

Under Coyer, Denver's rush defense had always been among the NFL's elite. The Broncos had allowed an average of 93.3 yards per game since 2003, second in the NFL in that period.

BEARS

Defensive tackle Tank Johnson pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor weapons charges after a police raid on his home last month.

Johnson, dressed in a suit and tie, did not speak during the Lake County court hearing before Judge Theodore Potkonjak. Defense attorney Tom Briscoe entered the plea for him. His next court date in Lake County is set for Feb. 16.

Johnson was arrested Dec. 14 after police raided his Gurnee home. It was his third arrest in 18 months.

He faces 10 counts of possession of firearms without the required state gun-owner identification card.

SAINTS

Four-time Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn sat out significant portions of practice, still bothered by the groin injury that caused him to miss the last four games of the regular season.

Saints coach Sean Payton said Horn, who had a pair of big touchdown catches in the victory over Philadelphia earlier this season, is questionable for the rematch Saturday night in the second round of the NFC playoffs.

COLTS

Safety Bob Sanders, still recovering from a knee injury, practiced and is expected to play in Indianapolis' playoff game at Baltimore on Saturday.

Running back Joseph Addai didn't practice because of a chest injury, but it appears he'll also play.

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