NFL notebook

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Associated Press

The NFL notebook …

METAIRIE, La. — It’s become a recurring theme in the NFL, the teacher vs. pupil matchup, and one Saints coach Sean Payton knows he’ll be dealing with all week.

In Payton’s rookie season as a head coach, it happens that the Saints have to play this Sunday at Dallas, where Payton was an assistant under Bill Parcells for the past three seasons.

“He was an important part of my coaching career. So, I am able to lean on him and my experiences with him,” Payton said Monday. “It’s been valuable for me and it’s not a new story and it’s happened throughout the years, a coach going back to coach against a coach who was a big influence on his life.

“What’s most important is that you have two teams that are 8-4,” Payton said.

SAINTS

NEW ORLEANS — Saints defensive tackle Hollis Thomas was suspended for the final four games of the regular season Tuesday for violating the league’s steroid policy.

Thomas, backed by the team, appealed the suspension, which he said was caused by using asthma medication. He uses an inhaler daily and it apparently contained a banned steroid.

TIME CHANGES

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The starting time for the Miami Dolphins’ game at Buffalo against the Bills on Dec. 17 has been moved to 4:05 p.m. EST.

The game between AFC East rivals Miami and Buffalo also was initially scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The changes came a day after NBC moved the Dec. 17 game between San Diego and Kansas City to its nighttime slot.

BROWNS

BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye’s right wrist is bruised and not broken, and is questionable for the Browns’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

LT RECORD

SAN DIEGO — LaDanian Tomlinson has scored 26 TDs with a quarter of the season still to play.

The Chargers (10-2) host the reeling Denver Broncos (7-5) on Sunday. By game’s end, Tomlinson could share or own the NFL’s single-season touchdown record, and the Chargers could have a playoff spot locked up.

He’s three shy of breaking the record of 28 set last year by league MVP Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks.

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