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NFL notebook: Texans hope O’Brien can work more magic

Associated Press

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Bill O’Brien worked closely with Tom Brady when he was a Patriots assistant.

He’s now set to return to the NFL to coach Houston, and he’s a long way from Brady. The Texans have the No. 1 draft pick, and O’Brien might well find himself having to groom a rookie quarterback.

Two sources, speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hadn’t been made, said Tuesday night that O’Brien reached an agreement to coach the Texans. He is expected to be introduced today.

He inherits a team filled with talent, but whose biggest problem is at quarterback. Veteran Matt Schaub, Houston’s starter since 2007, was benched after six games. Case Keenum took over after that, but his lack of success showed he wasn’t the answer either, and the team finished on a 14-game skid.

A number of talented quarterbacks could be available in May’s draft. Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, and Fresno State’s Derek Carr, younger brother of Houston’s first-ever draft pick, David Carr, are among the top-rated quarterbacks expected to be in the draft.

O’Brien spent 2007-12 as offensive assistant under Bill Belichick at New England. O’Brien was the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2009-11, and Brady threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns in the 2011 regular season, when the Patriots went to the Super Bowl.

But his success with quarterbacks didn’t begin or end with Brady.

In 2001 he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Georgia Tech and worked with George Godsey. Godsey broke school records for yards passing (3,085) and completions (249) and led the ACC with 257.1 yards passing a game.

His success in grooming quarterbacks continued at Penn State in 2012. Under O’Brien’s tutelage, senior Matt McGloin made remarkable improvement. He led the Big Ten in yards passing (3,271), completions (270) and touchdown passes (24). McGloin increased his completion percentage from 54.1 to 60.5 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Bucs set to hire Smith

A source says former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has reached an agreement to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Speaking to the Associated Press on Wednesday night on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement hasn’t been made, the source also says former Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier will be the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator.

The 55-year-old Smith will replace Greg Schiano, fired Monday after going 4-12 this season and 11-21 in two years with the team..

Smith was 81-63 in nine seasons with Chicago, leading the 2006 team to the Super Bowl — where the Bears lost Indianapolis. He was fired a year ago after the Bears finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons.

Bowe set to play

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was cleared to play in Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against Indianapolis after sustaining a concussion, though the status of linebacker Tamba Hali and right tackle Eric Fisher remains uncertain.

Fisher hurt his groin near the end of Tuesday’s practice, while Hali has been dealing with swelling in his knee. Neither participated fully in Wednesday’s workout.

Bowe sustained his concussion in a loss to the Colts two weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium. He was hit in the neck area late in the game by LaRon Landry, and even though he finished the game and even attended a practice the next week, Bowe said he never quite felt right.

He was diagnosed with a concussion and sat out last week’s overtime loss at San Diego, when the Chiefs — assured of their playoff seed — chose to rest 20 starters.

“I’m fine, you know. Just had a little minor headache,” said Bowe, who signed a $56 million, five-year deal in the offseason.

McDermott gets interview

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera says defensive coordinator Sean McDermott will interview for the Washington Redskins coaching position this week. Rivera says the Redskins called Tuesday to ask permission to speak with McDermott. NFL rules mandate interviews with assistant coaches on a bye week must be conducted before the conclusion of the wild-card games. The Panthers have a bye.


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