The Cleveland Browns seem to be aiming at the return of Marty Schottenheimer as their coach for the 2009 season, ESPN.com reported yesterday.

The Browns plan to fire Romeo Crennel after a disappointing year, the Web site reported, although team officials have been silent on the matter.

Schottenheimer recently said he had no plans to return to the sideline, but ESPN said he would consider coming back "with a team that has a good core of talent."

Schottenheimer, 65, was fired by the San Diego Chargers after leading the team to a 14-2 record in 2006. A playoff loss to the New England Patriots led to his surprising dismissal in February 2007.

Schottenheimer became head coach of the Browns when Sam Rutigliano was fired midway through the 1984 season. Schottenheimer had a 44-27 record with Cleveland, including three division titles, four playoff appearances, and two losses in the AFC title game.

Schottenheimer has coached the Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers, but his record in the playoffs is 5-13. He has never coached a Super Bowl team.

Cheap shot. Nothing angers an NFL player more than an opponent's taking a shot at his knees.

So it was no surprise that tempers flared in the second quarter after Gosder Cherilus, a rookie offensive tackle for Detroit, lunged from his knees to hit Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen on his left knee.

Allen slowly got off the turf and angrily limped toward Cherilus, pointing and screaming, before teammate Ray Edwards held him back. Allen went to the sideline, where his knee was examined.

On the next play, Detroit fullback Moran Norris was ejected for swiping at linebacker Napoleon Harris after they tangled.

On track for history. Detroit is the fourth team to start 0-13 or worse since 1976, when Tampa Bay finished 0-14 in its expansion season.

But the previous three - last year's Dolphins (0-13), the 1986 Colts (0-13), and the 1980 Saints (0-14) - all managed a win in the final month.

No team has ever gone 0-16.

Buy a watch. Alex Barron's streak of 47 consecutive starts ended when the offensive tackle was inactive for the St. Louis Rams' game against the Arizona Cardinals. Barron was benched for being late to a team meeting Friday. Coach Jim Haslett started Adam Goldberg in his place.

In the lineup. Defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams of Minnesota played after a judge's ruling on Thursday that issued a stay to their league-mandated suspensions for testing positive for a banned diuretic that can be used to mask steroids.

Out of the lineup. Cornerback Nate Clements was inactive for San Francisco with a broken thumb, missing the first game of his eight-year career and ending his streaks of 116 straight starts and 124 games played. . . . New England linebacker Junior Seau was active two days after the 12-time Pro Bowl player came out of retirement for a second time to rejoin the Patriots.

For the record. Indianapolis' Peyton Manning passed Drew Bledsoe for seventh place on the NFL's career list in passing yards. Manning has 44,851. Bledsoe had 44,611.

Noteworthy. Former Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos made his debut for Green Bay, punting eight times for an average of 39.5 yards.

A loss. Dan Marino Sr., the father of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, died at the age of 71.