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Saints hire Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator

– Saints coach Sean Payton chose Rob Ryan as his new defensive coordinator, hoping New Orleans can overhaul a unit that was historically bad last season.

Ryan, the brother of New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, spent the past two seasons as Dallas’ defensive coordinator. He was fired after last season, when his defense ranked 19th.

The Saints yielded 7,042 yards last season, the worst single-season total in NFL history.

“We have experience in preparing and playing against his defenses and they’ve always been challenging in terms of the different looks and pressures that they feature,” Payton said when Ryan’s hiring was announced Saturday, a day after he interviewed.

Payton also added Stan Kwan as an assistant special teams coach. Kwan has been an NFL assistant 23 years, the past three as special teams assistant in Buffalo.


Speedway upgrade may get public help

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway could receive public funding for up to $100 million in improvements. State Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, is expected to introduce a bill Monday creating a “motor sports investment district” to collect existing state sales, income and corporate taxes for investment at the track. Track officials said improvements would include new video boards, better lighting and more modern grandstands at a cost of $70 million to $100 million.


Red Sox prospect shoots self in leg

Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said outfield prospect Bryce Brentz accidentally shot himself in the leg last month but could recover in time for spring training. Cherington said Brentz was cleaning the gun went it went off. The bullet passed through Brentz’s left leg.


Hawks guard undergoes surgery

Atlanta said it is optimistic guard Lou Williams will be ready for the Hawks’ training camp following reconstructive surgery on his right knee.


Broadcaster, former QB die

Former Washington Senators broadcaster Shelby Whitfield, who enjoyed a long career with AP Radio and ABC Radio, died Tuesday at a rehabilitation center in Jackson, N.J. He was 77. … Doug Kenna, quarterback of West Point’s 1944 undefeated national championship team, died Jan. 28 in North Palm Beach, Fla. He was 88.


Around the slopes

American Stacey Cook posted the fastest time (1 minute, 50.87 seconds) in the final training session for the downhill at the world championships in Schladming, Austria. … Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway won the men’s downhill title at the Alpine world championships with a time of 2:01.32.


US women’s coach wins in debut

The U.S. women’s team defeated Scotland 4-1 in Jacksonville, Fla., to give Tom Sermanni a victory in his coaching debut. Sermanni, who was born in Scotland and spent the last eight years as Australia’s coach, was hired in October.


Around the courts

In Rimini, Italy, American Varvara Lepchenko rallied past Roberta Vinci 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 after Sara Errani defeated Jamie Hampton 6-2, 6-1 to lift the United States to a 1-1 tie against Italy in the Fed Cup. …

In Vina Del Mar, Chile, Rafael Nadal beat Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-2, putting the Spaniard in both finals of the VTR Open after a seven-month layoff because of a left knee injury and a stomach virus.