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Bengals Fire Defensive Coordinator

January 5, 2005

CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Bengals fired defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Wednesday, the first change to coach Marvin Lewis’ staff since their 8-8 finish.

Frazier was defensive coordinator in Lewis’ first two seasons, when the defense’s inability to stop the run was a glaring problem. Lewis said Monday that he expected all of his coordinators back next season.

However, Lewis announced Wednesday that he had decided not to offer Frazier a contract extension.

``I credit Leslie for his part in leading the defense to where it is today,″ Lewis said in a statement. ``But I see this as the time to move to another stage in our team’s evolution.″

Lewis declined further comment.

Lewis came to Cincinnati with a reputation for defense _ he coordinated the unit that helped Baltimore win the Super Bowl in the 2000 season _ but the Bengals have struggled to stop opponents in his two seasons as head coach. They finished 28th in defense in 2003, and were 19th last season.

A rift between Lewis and Frazier surfaced during a 34-17 loss to Cleveland that left the Bengals 1-4. Lewis started calling some defensive plays during the game because of the poor performance. Lewis went back to letting Frazier run the unit after that game.

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