Bills: Female assistant earned job on merit

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Competing in lacrosse, swimming and bowling in high school wasn't enough for Kathryn Smith.

Come fall, she would spend most Friday nights on the football sideline helping her father, Robert, track statistics for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, New York.

Little did anyone envision some 15 years later that Smith's passion for sports would lead her to become the NFL's first full-time female assistant coach.

"That's just her nature that whatever she's doing, she's certainly going to jump in head first," Christian Brothers Athletic Director John Wleklinski said Thursday.

Wleklinski spoke fondly of Smith a day after coach Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills broke the league's gender barrier by promoting the 30-year-old to be their special teams quality control coach.

"I appreciate Rex Ryan giving me this opportunity based on the merit of my work and commitment to this organization," Smith said, in a series of statements released by the team. "The amount of attention generated in the past 24 hours has been extraordinary. However, my focus remains on my job responsibilities and helping the team win."

She has 12 seasons of NFL experience, starting in various internship roles with the New York Jets.

And she got her coaching break because of Ryan, who first recognized Smith's potential when he was hired as the Jets coach in 2009. Ryan brought Smith along with him to Buffalo last year, and she spent this season as an administrative assistant for the Bills assistant coaches.

"Kathryn has been a part of Rex's staff for the past seven years and has proven that she does excellent work," Bills co-owner Kim Pegula said in a statement first released to the Associated Press on Thursday. "While we understand the significance of this announcement, it's important to understand that Kathryn earned this position because she has shown she is qualified, dedicated and puts in the work needed for this role."

Chiefs promote assistants to co-offensive coordinators

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs coach Andy Reid didn't have to search far for his new offensive coordinators.

Try right down the hall.

Reid promoted Brad Childress and Matt Nagy to the role Thursday, just days after Doug Pederson left the job to become the head coach in Philadelphia. Childress had been the spread game analyst and worked on special projects, while Nagy had been in charge of the quarterbacks.

Reid said he plans to call offensive plays, a job that he split with Pederson for much of this past season.

In other news

Panthers: Running back Jonathan Stewart returned to practice along with defensive end Jared Allen, who was diagnosed earlier this week with a broken bone in his foot.

Coach Ron Rivera said both players participated on a limited basis Thursday.

Rivera said earlier in the week the 33-year-old Allen was "doubtful" for Sunday's NFC championship game against the Arizona Cardinals, but said he may be elevated to questionable depending on how he feels Friday.

Raiders: Receiver Amari Cooper was added to the Pro Bowl as an injury replacement for Jets wideout Brandon Marshall.

49ers: San Francisco signed former CFL wide receiver Eric Rogers to a two-year deal.

Rogers led the CFL with 1,448 yards receiving and 10 touchdown catches last season.

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