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Miami luring USC's Carroll?

Costa Rica trip may hold a clue

Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga's travel itinerary suggests he's trying to lure University of Southern California coach Pete Carroll back to the NFL.

Carroll has been on vacation in Costa Rica, and a Huizenga-owned plane flew there Sunday, then returned to Fort Lauderdale, according to flight records. The same plane was used to take Dolphins officials to Pittsburgh, Chicago, San Diego, Jacksonville, and Minneapolis to interview candidates to replace Nick Saban.

In the 1990s, Carroll coached the New York Jets for one season and the Patriots for three before being fired. As recently as last week, he denied speculation he wanted to return to the pros.

The Dolphins interviewed two candidates yesterday: their defensive coordinator, Dom Capers, and Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

Since Saban left last week for Alabama, Miami has interviewed at least six other candidates: former Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and two Chicago Bears assistants, defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

Petrino introduced
Atlanta owner Arthur Blank believes Bobby Petrino will have an impact on quarterback Michael Vick and the Falcons. Blank sees Petrino, who was hired away from the University of Louisville Sunday, "as a difference-maker."

"Bobby knows how to motivate," Blank said at a news conference yesterday to introduce Petrino. "He knows how to teach. He knows how to get the best out of his athletes. He'll push Michael Vick to higher levels."

The Falcons, first in the league in rushing but last in passing, ranked 25th in scoring in their 7-9 season that cost third-year coach Mora his job.

Petrino, 45, polished his reputation as a top offensive mind in four seasons as Louisville's head coach. His 41-9 record included a 12-1 mark and No. 5 national ranking this season. The Cardinals ranked fourth in the nation in scoring and second in total yards.

"I'm really looking forward to getting to know [Vick] and watching him and developing and working at it," Petrino said.

General manager Rich McKay said a provision of Petrino's five-year, $24 million deal is that Petrino will pay his $1 million buyout from his Louisville contract.

LT an AP All-Pro
LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, and Champ Bailey capped superb seasons by unanimously making the Associated Press NFL All-Pro team.

Tomlinson, San Diego's record-setting running back, also won the AP Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards. Miami end Taylor was the Defensive Player of the Year.

Bailey tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions even though opponents tried to avoid throwing to the Broncos cornerback's side of the field.

Complete voting, Page E8.

Chow seeks reunion
Norm Chow became the seventh candidate to be interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals' coaching job, and expressed great interest in a potential reunion with quarterback Matt Leinart. "Obviously I have a real fondness for Matt," Chow said after his interview. "We were together for all three years that I was at USC [as offensive coordinator]. Chow has spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.

Raider search starts
USC quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian became the first candidate to interview for the Oakland Raiders' coaching vacancy. Sarkisian, 32, was Oakland's quarterbacks coach in 2004 in between stints at USC, where he helped tutor Leinart, Carson Palmer, and John David Booty. Art Shell was fired last week by Oakland after a 2-14 season . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars hired former Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter as their offensive coordinator . . . Kansas State defensive coordinator Raheem Morris rejoined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as defensive backs coach . . . Jets running back Curtis Martin, fourth in the NFL in career rushing, reiterated he probably has played his last game because of a bone-on-bone right knee injury that sidelined him all season.

Johnson to enter draft
Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson announced he will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft, aware that he should be one of the top players selected. Johnson this season caught 76 passes for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was chosen to the AP All-America team and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. Also skipping their senior seasons are Michigan defensive tackle Alan Branch and University of Miami outside linebacker Jon Beason.

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