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LEVRA, LESTER STAY WITH BILLS

The Buffalo Bills Monday announced that the team has re-signed John Levra as defensive line coach and Chuck Lester as defensive assistant/assistant to the head coach, in addition to hiring three other assistants.

Levra enters his 21st season as an NFL assistant and his fourth with the Bills. He joined the team prior to the 1998 season as defensive line coach. Previous stops in his NFL coaching career include New Orleans (1981-85), Chicago (1986-92), Denver (1993-94) and Minnesota (1995-97).

"I'm very excited about John Levra agreeing to stay as defensive line coach," said Bills head coach Gregg Williams. "He was at the very top of that list that I've been carrying for years. He's been one of the top defensive line coaches in the National Football League, he is very familiar with the personnel here, and has an impeccable reputation as a teacher of the position."

Lester has been with the Bills for the past 14 seasons, including the last three as linebackers coach. He joined the club in 1987 after three seasons as a scout with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"I've known Chuck Lester all 11 years that I've been in the National Football League," said Williams. "He started out at the same position that I did and has done a great job handling the breakdown and systems aspect on the defensive side of the ball. We're looking for him to help this staff get acclimated and with the overall transition. In addition to assisting with game analysis and the breakdown of opponents, Chuck will handle a lot of the things on the administrative end in terms of keeping the staff organized."

The Bills also announced on Monday the hiring of Dan Neal as tight ends coach, Tommy Kaiser as offensive assistant-special teams coach and Steve Kragthorpe as quarterbacks coach.

Neal, 51, was the offensive assistant for Titans coach Jeff Fisher last season after spending three seasons as tight ends coach in New Orleans. The former NFL center with the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Colts also has been an offensive line coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals during a 12-year NFL coaching career.

Kaiser, 48, spent six seasons at Oklahoma State, most recently as assistant head coach.

Kragthorpe, 35, has been the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M for the past three seasons.

Around the league

The Cincinnati Bengals, taking a step they hope will keep Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon with the team for another season, designated him as the team's transition player.

Dillon will become an unrestricted free agent on March 2 if he does not reach a contract agreement with the Bengals by then.

The NFL was awarded $2.6 million in damages by a federal court that agreed a company illegally transmitted the league's television broadcasts into Canada. PrimeTime24 violated the NFL's rights 180 times from 1997 through last August, the court found. The NFL was awarded $2,557,500 in damages and $45,792.99 in costs.

The Oakland Raiders signed veteran kick returner and wide receiver Eric Metcalf.

The Washington Redskins hired coach and Miami Dolphins coach Bill Arnsparger, 74, as a defensive assistant.

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