NFL notebook

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Associated Press

The NFL notebook …

DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor says the candidacy of his likely chief rival for NFL defensive player of the year, Shawne Merriman, was tainted by a four-game steroid suspension in November.

“You really shouldn’t be able to fail a test like that and play in this league, to begin with,” Taylor said Wednesday. “To make the Pro Bowl and all the other awards, I think you’re walking a fine line of sending the wrong message.”

Merriman, who plays outside linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, has denied he’s a steroid cheat and blamed his positive test on a tainted supplement.

“A performance-enhancing drug is, obviously, what it is,” Taylor said.

Taylor has been one of the few bright spots this season for Miami (6-9). In 15 games, he has 131/2 sacks.

Merriman leads the NFL with 16 sacks in 11 games for the Chargers (13-2).

COWHER’S FUTURE

PITTSBURGH — If the Pittsburgh Steelers are determined to win one for Bill Cowher, they’re certainly not acting like it.

With the Steelers (7-8) now out of playoff contention, the focus for their season-ending game Sunday at Cincinnati has shifted to the possible resignation of Bill Cowher less than 11 months after he coached them to a Super Bowl victory.

Except, it seems, in their own locker room.

“No, that’s not the motivation,” linebacker Joey Porter said Wednesday. “I don’t think nobody is using that because he’s never said anything like that to us.”

CARDINALS

An MRI revealed no structural damage to quarterback Matt Leinart’s shoulder.

Leinart, who sprained his left (throwing) shoulder in a 26-20 victory over San Francisco last Sunday, will not require surgery. Leinart is out for the Cardinals’ regular-season finale at San Diego.

The 10th overall draft pick in April finished the season with 214 completions in 377 attempts (56.8 percent) for 2,547 yards.

REDSKINS

Washington placed cornerback Shawn Springs on injured reserve and released cornerback Mike Rumph.

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