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Sunday, January 9, 2005
Williams has sprained right ankle

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Minnesota Vikings: Running back Moe Williams might have to miss this weekend's playoff game at Philadelphia with a sprained right ankle.

Randy Moss has the same injury, also aggravated in Sunday's win at Green Bay, but his isn't as serious and the wide receiver is expected to play against the Eagles.

"The only one I'm really concerned about is Moe," coach Mike Tice said.

Williams, who has been a clutch runner and receiver while playing mostly on third downs, would be missed most in pass protection against a Philadelphia defense that blitzes effectively and often.

"I think Moe is going to be, at best, a game-time decision," Tice said.

Denver Broncos: Mike Shanahan believes the Broncos are close to being among the NFL elite. He believes Jake Plummer is an excellent quarterback. And he doesn't believe his power within the team is as all-encompassing as many people might think.

Add it all up and it's logical not to expect many drastic changes in 2005 -- either on the roster or in the hierarchy -- from a team that has finished the last two seasons in identical fashion, with 10-7 records and blowout losses to Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs.

"I think we were there this year," Shanahan said during a 55-minute news conference to recap the season. "You don't finish fourth on defense and fifth on offense without being pretty good."

And Shanahan is in love with his quarterback. He spent a good five minutes praising him Monday. The Broncos must pay him $6 million on March 1 to keep him under his current contract, and Shanahan said that was all but a done deal.

Shanahan denied that wearing the hats as head coach and top personnel guy is too much for him to handle, as many -- including a handful of former players -- suggested over the season.

It means that barring a change of heart by owner Pat Bowlen, Shanahan will likely return for his 11th season as Denver's key decision maker, earning $5 million a year to lead a team that hasn't won a playoff game since the 1998 Super Bowl.

San Francisco 49ers: Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis will interview this week for the 49ers' head coaching position, a San Francisco spokesman said Monday.

After dining together Monday night, Heimerdinger and 49ers owner John York will have a formal interview in St. Louis on Tuesday. Lewis will interview on Wednesday, spokesman Kirk Reynolds said.

Heimerdinger has been in charge of the Titans' offense for five years, leading Tennessee to several franchise superlatives and helping Steve McNair win a share of the MVP award last season.

He was on the Broncos' staff for five years before joining the Titans but hasn't been a head coach since 1979 at Johnsburg High School in McHenry, Ill. Lewis was the defensive coordinator of the Steelers for the final four seasons of a nine-year stint with Pittsburgh before Giants coach Tom Coughlin hired him a year ago. The former Packers cornerback was the 11th overall selection in the 1983 draft, but his playing career was cut short by a neck injury in 1986.

York fired coach Dennis Erickson and dismissed general manager Terry Donahue last Wednesday after the 49ers finished 2-14, matching the worst record in franchise history and earning the top pick in the draft. York plans to hire a coach with broad powers before replacing his general manager.

York interviewed New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel in Boston on Saturday, with both sides saying the conversation went well. The owner hasn't set a timetable for his search.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins have a new coach, and now they have a new name for their stadium. It will be known as Dolphins Stadium and there are plans to expand, owner Wayne Huizenga said Monday.

The name change takes place nearly five years after Huizenga unsuccessfully began seeking a new naming-rights sponsor for the ballpark. Pro Player signed a 10-year, $20 million deal with the Dolphins in 1996, but the sports apparel company was bought out five years ago.

A new management company -- Dolphins Enterprises LLC -- is being created. A CEO for that company will be named shortly, Huizenga said. The CEO will report directly to Huizenga, as will new coach Nick Saban.

A three-phase renovation is planned "to transform the stadium into a year-round destination and a venue that is ready-made for the Super Bowl, Orange Bowl and other major national and international events," Huizenga said.

The first phase of the makeover may include new scoreboards, remodeled suites, new exhibition space, additional parking and a new traffic flow around the ballpark, at an estimated cost of $100 million to $125 million. The second phase might include a permanent or retractable roof

Other remodeling plans would not begin until the Florida Marlins leave the stadium, which the MLB team hopes will be by 2008.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.