MOBILE, Ala. • While New Orleans head coach Sean Payton has been fully reinstated by the league after being suspended for a year for his role in the “Bountygate” scandal, Gregg Williams has only one foot out of the NFL’s penalty box.
Since the coach-hiring “season” began at the conclusion of the regular season, Williams has been free to find an NFL coaching job. According to league sources, once a club expresses interest in hiring Williams, Commissioner Roger Goodell would evaluate Williams’ status for reinstatement.
Williams was the ringleader of the Saints’ pay-for-performance bounty program as defensive coordinator in New Orleans, and was hired by Jeff Fisher as Rams defensive coordinator before news of the league investigation became known.
Williams has since fallen out of favor with Fisher, and once Fisher fired Williams’ son Blake as Rams linebackers coach and de facto coordinator, it became crystal clear that Gregg Williams wasn’t returning to St. Louis. Meanwhile, Fisher’s decision on a new defensive coordinator may not come until Super Bowl week.
The only known candidate to interview has been Rob Ryan, recently fired as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator. Among the scuttlebutt at the Senior Bowl, where hundreds of scouts and coaches have congregated, is the rumor that Fisher may make an under-the-radar hire – a less well-known candidate or perhaps someone from the college ranks.
Two former Rams, cornerback Travis Fisher and wide receiver/safety Mike Furrey, are doing some networking this week at the Senior Bowl. Fisher, who eventually would like to get into scouting, currently is cornerbacks coach at Rickards High in Tallahassee, Fla. Furrey, currently the head coach at Kentucky Christian University, would eventually like to make the jump to the NFL as an assistant coach.
Running back Montee Ball, the University of Wisconsin’s record-setting standout out of Timberland High in Wentzville, was invited to the Senior Bowl but declined to participate.
The only University of Missouri player in attendance is linebacker Zaviar Gooden, who is participating for the South squad. Representing the University of Illinois are offensive lineman Hugh Thornton and defensive end Michael Buchanan of the North squad.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern and Rockwood Summit High in St. Louis County is on the North squad and has had some good moments in practice so far.
The Rams’ scouting department is on hand in full force, along with general manager Les Snead and executive director of football operations Kevin Demoff. Attendance was not mandatory for Rams coaches, but special teams coordinator John Fassel and special teams assistant Paul Boudreau Jr. are in attendance.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who suffered a severe season-ending right knee injury in October, made an appearance at the South squad practice Tuesday afternoon.
Lattimore, who decided to turn pro early following his second major knee injury, spoke briefly with Snead.
Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long, the brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long, was ill Tuesday and did not participate in the North squad’s practice.
The Rams are taking a long, hard look at safeties this week, but one of the top safeties in the draft – Kenny Vaccaro of Texas – declined his Senior Bowl invitation.
For the first time in Senior Bowl history a couple of non-seniors were invited – Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh and Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. The NFL granted both players clearance to participate because they have earned their degrees and had been in school four years.