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COACH JONES STORY DRAWS LAUGHS AMONG COWBOYS

The suggestion that Jerry Jones might be the next coach of the Dallas Cowboys brought snickers from some players, and even Barry Switzer.

A bemused Emmitt Smith smiled when asked Monday what he thought about the latest story speculating that Jones aspires to make himself an NFL coach.

"Jerry makes a great owner, leave it like that," Smith said. "It's not even worth talking about."

Nate Newton laughed when he was asked.

"Well, he signs my checks. He can do anything he wants to do. He'd do like any other coach, turn it over to his assistants and just be a PR man," Newton said.

Switzer, only the third coach in Cowboys history, said the story brought him a laugh.

"I do get a chuckle out of it," Switzer said. "But Jerry is too smart to set himself up like that. I know how it happened. Somebody asked him a question if coaching ever crossed his mind and someone took it and ran with it. I guarantee you that's how it happened."

Jones said he was more interested in managing than coaching.

"I coached my last game 20 years ago," Jones said Monday, referring to son Jerry Jr.'s little league teams.

Ravens get Morris back

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens are averaging 28 points a game and riding the first three-game winning streak in franchise history. Now they've got running back Bam Morris back, too.

Morris returned Monday from a four-week suspension for violating the NFL's policy on substance abuse. The 25-year-old running back was humble about missing four games but confident that he would successfully rebound from his latest digression.

"I let down Mr. Modell, the coaches, the players and the fans," he said. "I can still have a great year, but it would have better if I played in 16 games instead of 12. I'm just going to have to make the best of it."

Morris, who led the Ravens in rushing last season, will not start this Sunday in San Diego.

Meanwhile, Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa is expected to miss seven to 10 days with a strained left ankle tendon.

Raiders reeling after another blown lead

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have led in the fourth quarter in each of their four games this season. They've come away with just one win.

"Every team's motto is win the fourth quarter, and right now we're not winning the fourth quarter," running back Napoleon Kaufman said as the team gathered to watch film of yet another close loss.

The Raiders (1-3) fell 23-22 to the New York Jets on Sunday when a blocked field goal was returned 72 yards for the winning touchdown. Oakland was undermined by Cole Ford missing four field goals and an extra point.

The Raiders' three losses this season have been by a total of five points. Oakland is 0-7 over the past two seasons in games decided by three points or fewer.

"It is the bottom of the barrel, to lose the way we are losing," tight end Harvey Williams said. "We could easily be 4-0 right now, but we're NOT."

Coach Joe Bugel said Ford was not striding properly into his kicks against the Jets, and that poor snaps by rookie Adam Treu made matters much worse. But Bugel said he has no plans to change personnel.

"No, we're not going to bring out any extra kickers, any extra snappers, any extra holders," he said. "It's all mechanics."

Pace to get start for Rams

ST. LOUIS -- Convinced his offensive line can do no worse, St. Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil is putting Orlando Pace in the starting lineup.

Pace, the No. 1 pick of the NFL draft who held out all of training camp, will get his first start at left tackle Sunday at Oakland.

"You say, 'What the heck?' " Vermeil said. "What can it hurt?"

The plan had been for Pace to come off the bench this weekend, then after the Rams' bye week he'd start for the first time Oct. 12 at San Francisco.

Johnson whining about injuries

DAVIE, Fla. -- Under the gun to explain the Miami Dolphins' consecutive losses, Jimmy Johnson pointed out that 11 of his players have had surgery this season.

Johnson isn't happy with how his team is playing, but a day after Miami's 31-21 loss to Tampa Bay he said it was time to note the number of injuries.

"At this stage with our football team we don't have the depth or the talent to overcome that many losses," Johnson said.

Two players underwent surgery Monday: left guard Keith Sims on his elbow, fullback Dewayne Dotson on his knee.

Sims will be out 6 to 8 weeks and Dotson is expected back for the next game.

Around the league

Bill Schroeder, the NFC's leading punt returner, might have lost his job as the Green Bay Packers' return man. Schroeder's fumble on the second-half kickoff Sunday ignited the Minnesota Vikings' rally that turned a blowout into a 38-32 nail-biter. Coach Mike Holmgren replaced Schroeder on kickoffs with Chris Darkins for the rest of the day. "There is a simple fact of life in this league: You cannot fumble and play for me. That's just the way it is," a still-irked Holmgren said Monday. "And the game yesterday, the momentum change took place on that play." Schroeder leads the NFC with a 15.6-yard average on punt returns. "We'll decide later in the week about punts," said Holmgren.

Cortez Kennedy's club-record streak will probably end at 100 consecutive starts. The Seahawks defensive tackle was listed as doubtful for Sunday's game in Kansas City after spraining his left knee vs. San Diego. Doubtful means he has a 25 percent chance of playing.

San Diego Chargers kicker John Carney is listed as doubtful for this Sunday's home game against Baltimore after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his kicking knee moments after his fifth field goal in Sunday's 26-22 loss at Seattle.

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