NFL notebook: Redskins tab Jay Gruden as new coach
The face was different, the words familiar. Like Mike Shanahan and nearly every recent Redskins coach, Jay Gruden is anxious to declare an end to franchise's days of dysfunction.
“I don't know what happened last year,” Gruden said. “I know that interviewing with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen and everybody here that the passion for excellence is there. All they want to do is win, and they're going to provide me with every avenue to win.”
The 46-year-old Gruden was introduced Thursday as the man charged with ending the perpetual state of turmoil the team has endured under owner Snyder and recently under general manager Allen.
Gruden was a given a five-year contact for his first NFL head coaching gig, taking over a 3-13 team that has finished last in the NFC East in five of the last six seasons.
Gruden praised the talents of Robert Griffin III and spoke of the need to build a “genuine” trust with the franchise quarterback, who regressed this season after winning the AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012.
There's no question Gruden has paid his dues. He has been a head coach in the AFL and UFL.
“There's a lot of work to do,” Gruden said. “When you're 3-13, there's not one particular player or reason, there's a lot of reasons and there's a lot of things that need to be fixed.”
The Bengals promoted Hue Jackson to offensive coordinator to replace Gruden.
Seattle WR Harvin to play
Wide receiver Percy Harvin will play for the Seahawks in Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against the Saints after missing most of the season following hip surgery.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Harvin would play following practice. Carroll said there would be no limitations on how they can use Harvin, including being used on kickoff returns.
Harvin has played in just one game this season, in Week 11 against Minnesota, after undergoing surgery to repair the labrum in his hip in early August. Harvin said there were a couple of setbacks following his lone game this season, but he impressed Carroll enough during a workout on Dec. 30 to avoid being put on injured reserve.
WR Smith has setback
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith says his injured left knee isn't coming along quite as well as he'd hoped.
Smith practiced for the second straight day on a limited basis, saying, “It didn't feel as great as I thought it'd feel.” He says he “overdid it a little” in practice.
Smith estimates he's “57 percent” healthy, down from 71 percent he mentioned on Wednesday.
As for whether he'll play Sunday against the 49ers in the NFC divisional playoffs, Smith says, “I'll have to see” on Friday.
Coach Ron Rivera expressed concern, saying Smith didn't look as sharp as he normally does.
Rivera says “when you watch Steve and watch the way he does things, there's a smoothness to his movements and stuff — and it's not quite there yet.”
Jeffery Pro Bowl-bound
Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery is headed to his first Pro Bowl.
The NFL announced he will replace injured Detroit star Calvin Johnson, a reward for a breakout season in his second year in the league.
Jeffery's 1,421 yards receiving this season ranked second in franchise history and his 89 receptions were sixth most.
He and Brandon Marshall are the first pair of Bears receivers to make the Pro Bowl in the same season. Chicago running back Matt Forte was also selected.
Jury starts for Brent trial
Jury selection started in the intoxication manslaughter trial of former Cowboy Josh Brent, charged in the 2012 car wreck that killed a teammate.
Brent was present for the start of jury selection in the trial over the accident that killed his best friend, Jerry Brown, who was on the team's practice squad.
Brent last July retired from the NFL team.
Around the league
Giants top running back David Wilson needs neck surgery and his future in football is uncertain. ... A person familiar with the situation said the Browns gave Miami permission to interview Cleveland assistant general manager Ray Farmer for the Dolphins' GM opening. … Jets tight end Kellen Winslow was charged by East Hanover (N.J.) police with possession of Fubinaca, a synthetic form of marijuana, NFL.com reported. ... Third-year Ohio State defensive line coach Mike Vrabel is jumping back to the NFL to coach linebackers for new Texans coach Bill O'Brien.