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NFL notebook: Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to return

Associated Press

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will have two new coaches on his staff for next season.

Tucker is keeping his job after Chicago’s porous defense played a key role in its 8-8 season, but the Bears announced Sunday that defensive line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar had been dismissed. Hit hard by injuries, Tucker’s unit allowed 29.9 points and 394.6 yards per game in his first year in the position.

“Our team evaluation remains ongoing. We believe Mel is the right person to lead our defensive unit,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said in a statement. “He fully understands where we need to improve, has the skill set and leadership to oversee the changes that need to be made and to execute our plan to get the results we know are necessary.”

Phair was a holdover from Lovie Smith’s tenure as Bears coach, joining the team in 2011 as an assistant defensive line coach. Tibesar was hired a year ago from Purdue, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.

The rest of the coaching staff is expected to return for next season.

“Our search for a defensive line and linebackers coach has begun and we will be looking for the best candidates whose experience can bring the most out of our veteran and young players in both areas,” Trestman said.

Chicago’s trouble on defense was due in part to a rash of injuries on that side of the ball.

Starters Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, D.J. Williams and Henry Melton each missed big chunks of the season.

Injury report — San Diego Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o suffered a concussion late in the first half of Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Denver Broncos.

Punter Mike Scifres was also shaken up late in the first half with a back injury.

Te’o was hurt trying to tackle running back Knowshon Moreno near the goal line. The rookie linebacker was helped to the sideline and then headed into the locker room for evaluation.

Carolina Panthers starting safety Quintin Mikell was sidelined with a right foot injury suffered late in the first half of an NFC divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Mikell went down while trying to cover 49ers tight end Vernon Davis on a goal-line pass with 47 seconds left in the first half. He was briefly on the ground before limping to the tunnel leading to the locker room.

Earlier, the 49ers lost fullback Will Tukuafu in the first quarter because of an injured left knee.

Tukuafu was hurt when his left leg bent awkwardly underneath him as he was being tackled on a short catch on the game’s opening drive.



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