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Around the AFC

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2000

BRONCOS: Wide receiver Rod Smith said he was satisfied with the NFL's conditional fine against him in a verbal harassment case and is eager to continue his court-ordered group therapy. "I feel they made a fair decision," Smith said. Smith was arrested Jan. 24 after an altercation with Jami Mourglia, the mother of his two children. He pleaded guilty last month to one misdemeanor count of verbal abuse. He was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to attend counseling. NFL officials imposed a $25,000 conditional fine, which Smith will not have to pay if he adheres to his probation terms. Smith said he felt so good after the first of his 36 therapy sessions that he hopes to persuade teammates to join him.

CHARGERS: Defensive end Neil Smith, who hasn't been in any training camp this summer, came calling five days after the Chargers lost their leading pass rusher, Raylee Johnson, to a season-ending knee injury. Smith took a physical and met with the front office, which was to meet with the coaching staff Wednesday night to decide whether to continue pursuing Smith. ... Coach Mike Riley said Ryan Leaf will start the preseason finale Friday against the Cardinals but added he wasn't ready to name a starter for the season.

CHIEFS: Eric Warfield is in at left cornerback. Cris Dishman is out. John Browning is in at right defensive tackle. Dan Williams is out. Those were the first lineup changes coach Gunther Cunningham made as the Chiefs prepare for Friday's preseason finale at Tampa Bay. "There will be further announcements next week," Cunningham said. "I made a statement to the team there could be three rookies starting." Cunningham said he would like to start rookie Greg Wesley at strong safety Friday in place of second-year man Larry Atkins. But Wesley has a wrist injury.

JETS: Bryan Cox says he will not talk to the media this year, "good, bad or otherwise." The declaration came two days after Cox and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton nearly came to blows on the practice field and had to be separated. Cox would not say if the altercation prompted his decision. He said he is following his mother's advice of "shut up and do your job."

PATRIOTS: The team signed cornerback Otis Smith, three days after the Jets waived him. Smith, 34, missed all but one game last season because of a broken left collarbone.

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