Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant is defensive rookie of the year

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Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant has been named Defensive Rookie of the Year by Pro Football Focus.

The Web site had Trufant, who was Atlanta’s No. 1 draft pick in 2013, listed as the seventh-ranked cornerback in the NFL this season.

His 15 pass breakups lead the league, and he had the eighth highest coverage grade in the NFL.

• The Falcons announced that Mike Tice will become their new offensive line coach.

Tice replaces Pat Hill and Paul Dunn, who were fired after the Falcons completed a 4-12 season. Atlanta also dismissed defensive line coach Ray Hamilton.

Tice took over as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings for the last game of the 2001 and held the job for the next four seasons.

He compiled a record of 32-33, including one playoff appearance.

Most recently, the 54-year-old Tice served as offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears in 2012. He was out of coaching this past season.

49ERS: The team is still practicing without cornerback Carlos Rogers.

The former Butler High star was not on the field Wednesday during the time the media was allowed to watch practice.

Rogers missed the 49ers’ wild-card win at Green Bay because of a hamstring injury suffered in Week 17.

CHARGERS: Center Nick Hardwick sustained a concussion as well as a stinger Sunday in the team’s playoff victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

RAIDERS: Coach Dennis Allen will be back for his third season as head coach.

Allen said after the season that he had been given an indication that he would be back for a third season, and he was right.

PANTHERS: Ric Flair used to be one of Steve Smith’s favorite pro wrestlers. Not anymore.

At the request of the San Francisco 49ers, Flair, nicknamed the “Nature Boy,” flew to Appleton, Wis., to address the 49ers this past Saturday night prior to their wild-card win over Green Bay.

That rubbed veteran Carolina receiver Smith the wrong way, particularly as the Panthers and 49ers prepare for their NFC divisional matchup Sunday in Charlotte.

Flair has long had North Carolina ties and has been friendly with several Panthers players, including Smith.

Smith said, however, Flair burned bridges by speaking to the 49ers.

According to the Miami Herald, Flair told the 49ers he is with them all the way, turning heel on Cam Newton and the hometown Panthers, just like he did to Sting, when Sting was a Four Horseman going for Flair’s gold.


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