NFL notes: Vitt gets interim gig with Saints

General manager of the New Orleans Saints Mickey Loomis announced Sean Payton's replacement today....

General manager of the New Orleans Saints Mickey Loomis announced Sean Payton's replacement today. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images/AFP)

John Kryk, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:05 PM ET

Suspend your disbelief.

Joe Vitt will fill in for Sean Payton as New Orleans Saints head coach this year.

Yes, the same Joe Vitt who must sit out the first six games of the 2012 NFL season for his role in the Saints' injure-for-pay "bounty-gate" scandal.

Payton's suspension begins Monday, so that's when Vitt, currently the Saints' assistant head coach in charge of linebackers, takes over Paton's chair.

Soon-to-be-suspended Saints GM Mickey Loomis made the announcement Thursday afternoon. Loomis will sit out the first eight games of the season for his part in stonewalling the NFL's investigation of the Saints' bounty program.

The club did not say who will be the interim-interim head coach for Vitt. But Loomis said a decision on that will be made "when we get to training camp" in July.

The NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Jason La Canfora reported Thursday night that one of three current Saints assistants likely will fill that role -- offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael or defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

On Tuesday, Bill Parcells pulled himself from consideration to temporarily replace Payton, his former coaching pupil.

PITTSBURGH ADD-ONS: On the same day the Steelers re-signed two players -- wideout Jerricho Cotchery and backup offensive lineman Trai Essex -- the club's hope to expand Heinz Field by 3,000 seats passed another important step.

The group that owns the stadium authorized the Steelers to seek league approval to add to Heinz Field's 65,000 capacity. The club has been hoping to expand seating for two years.

Guess that means they're playing catch-up with Heinz.

KARRAS LEADS NEW LAWSUIT: Alex Karras, a ferocious tackle with the Detroit Lions in the '60s who went on to become a famous actor, is among 119 additional ex-NFLers filing a concussion lawsuit against the NFL. Now 76, Karras reportedly suffers from dementia. There was no immediate word as to whether any of the ball carriers he knocked senseless are counter-suing.

GOOD RIDDANCE, TEBOW: That's how Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas feels, apparently, despite catching the pass in overtime from Tim Tebow that knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs.

The Broncos traded Tebow to the Jets last month when they signed Peyton Manning.

"I ain't going to say I was sad," Thomas told the syndicated 2 Live Stews radio show. "You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn't getting no balls, and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open, and he is not making the throws. But I don't want to talk bad about about Tim."

Of course you don't.

GRONK VISITS NEW BRUNSWICK SCHOOL: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski visited Nelson Rural School in Miramichi, N.B., Wednesday.

The Gronk is the first of four NFLers visiting Canadian grade schools, as part of the Canadian NFL Take a Player to School contest. Miramichi's Alex Allain, 13, was one of the four lucky contest winners.

Bills captain and starting safety George Wilson will make two visits to the Toronto area -- with Tikal Charles-Taylor, 12, to Etobicoke's Deer Park Public School later this month, and with Joshuwa Cappe-Morre, 12, to Bowmanville's Holy Family Catholic School in May.

Also next month, Seahawks wideout Golden Tate accompanies nine-year-old Keanen Tregaskis to Cougar Canyon Elementary in Delta, B.C.

On each visit, the player and the lucky student get chauffeured to school, and the school gets signed merchandise to auction off at school fundraisers.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Texans signed free agent linebacker Bradie James, a career Cowboy until now ... The Bears re-signed linebacker Lance Briggs to a new three-year deal, reportedly worth $17.5-million, with $8.25 million guaranteed ... Disgruntled Bears RB Matt Forte evidently won't sign anything but a long-term contract extension ... The Rams won't have a defensive coordinator in 2012. Former Saints def-co Gregg Williams was to have held the job, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month gave him an indefinite vacation without pay for having run the bounty-gate program in New Orleans. Steve Wyche of the NFL Network reported it is likely that Jeff Fisher, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis and secondary coach Chuck Cecil will together run the Rams defence this season ... The Bengals signed former Cowboys CB Terrance Newman, then dealt LB Keith Rivers to the Giants for a fifth-round draft pick ... All continues to be smiley-happy in Jetsville after QB Matt Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes worked out informally together in Florida ... Giants TE Jake Ballard's mangled knee is more mangled than first believed. He underwent microfracture surgery as well as surgery for the torn ACL he suffered in the Super Bowl, which puts in greater doubt his return in 2012.


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