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Texans Sign Butkus


Mod Squad
No we didn't sign **** Butkus, but we did sign his nephew.

The Houston Texans have signed a pair of free agents, center Luke Butkus and outside linebacker Antonio Rodriguez, both of whom just concluded their seasons in NFL Europe.

Butkus is the nephew of Hall of Fame linebacker **** Butkus. He spent much of last season on the San Diego Chargers practice squad and this spring anchored the line for the Cologne Centurians.

Rodriguez, who played for the Amsterdam Admirals this spring, was in training camp with the Texans last summer. Both players were on the field Monday as Houston began a three-day minicamp.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for

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The Detroit Lions, who have been trying for the past few weeks to add another veteran defensive tackle before training camp, have been awarded Marcus Bell on waivers.

Bell, 25, was released by the Arizona Cardinals on June 1 when coach Dennis Green purged five veteran backups to create opportunities for younger players. The Lions were awarded Bell by virtue of having the poorest 2003 record of the six clubs that submitted waiver claims on him.

The other five teams that claimed Bell on waivers were: Houston, Jacksonville, Miami, St. Louis and San Francisco.

The former University of Memphis standout likely will challenge Kelvin Pritchett and Cory Redding for the No. 3 tackle spot behind starters Dan Wilkinson and Shaun Rogers. It is not known if the addition of Bell will end the Lions' pursuit of unrestricted free agent tackle Dana Stubblefield. The team has been negotiating with Stubblefield, but did not want to sign him until he was fully recovered from 2003 injuries.

Bell provides a viable alternative to Stubblefield and is nine years younger. In three years with the Cardinals, the former fourth-round draft choice started 14 games, including 10 in 2003, and appeared in 42 contests. He had 99 tackles, 3½ sacks and five pass deflections. Detroit will assume Bell's one-year contract worth $628,000.