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Bama, ND defensive chiefs hot coaching commodities

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Bama, ND defensive chiefs hot coaching commodities

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart wants to be a head coach someday. It's just that there's no immediate rush.

The same might be said of top-ranked Notre Dame's defensive mastermind, Bob Diaco. Both he and Smart have drawn interest from schools for top jobs, which is to be expected. Their defenses are perhaps the nation's best, and have helped steer both teams into Monday night's BCS championship game.

The 37-year-old Smart interviewed with the second-ranked Crimson Tide's in-state rival, Auburn, and seems to be mentioned annually as a head coaching candidate for other programs the past few years.

``It's not like I wake up every day trying to leave Alabama,'' Smart said Friday in his first public comments since meeting with Auburn officials. ``I have the best non-head coaching job in the country, period, because I've got a great administration, we've got a great facility. I want to be where I can win and I know you can win at Alabama. I think that's so important.''

Diaco was a candidate at Boston College, among other schools.

Neither ultimately landed the jobs but they're already in enviable positions working for coaching mentors at top programs. Diaco has been Brian Kelly's defensive coordinator since 2009, their final season at Cincinnati.

Smart, who makes $950,000 a year, has been with defensive wizard Nick Saban during his entire six-year run at Alabama after one season under him at LSU and the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

``I have become who I've become as a coach from working for coach Saban,'' Smart said.

Tide linebacker Nico Johnson thinks his position coach would make a good head man.

``He's pretty much like coach Saban,'' Johnson said. ``He holds everybody to a standard and holds himself to a standard. He gets down on himself sometimes. He feels like he didn't put us in the best situation. The Texas A&M game ate him up more than any other loss we've had.

``As a person and as a coach, he's something special.''

Saban and Smart have routinely had defenses ranked among the nation's best during their tenure in Tuscaloosa, with a steady stream of NFL-caliber players. The Tide defense is No. 1 in yards allowed this season.

Again, what's the hurry to leave?

``I don't worry about where I'm going to be in three years or 10 years,'' Smart said. ``I think if you win, that takes care of itself, and I'm not in such a hurry to run off and do anything that I don't have a pressing issue. If I was 47, I might feel differently. But the most important thing to me right now is winning championships and developing young men into better players and better people.''

Smart said he shares Saban's aversion to hypothetical situations when asked if he hopes to replace Saban at Alabama. He said Saban has supported him when other suitors approached him.

``I think Alabama is a special, special place, and it's obviously a great place to coach,'' Smart said. ``But as far as anything outside of that, I'm just worried about this game and being successful at Alabama.''

Diaco also works for a former defensive coordinator, since Kelly had stints in that position at lower level Assumption and Grand Valley State.

Notre Dame is a private school and doesn't release salary information, but Diaco was promoted to assistant head coach before this season. Then he became the first Fighting Irish assistant to win the Broyles Award after directing the nation's top scoring defense.

``The selection committee is all basically Hall of Fame coaches, guys that we really point toward to say, `Hey, someday I'd just love to be like that guy,''' Diaco said. ``So it's a great, great honor, one that I don't take lightly at all. I've talked about it with my family. I've talked about it with my wife through this grind of years from stop to stop and place to place.

``It's just a great honor as it relates to a job well done in service.''

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.