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NFL NOTEBOOK: Emergency worker gets trapped at home of Falcons’ WR Jones; ex-LSU star Mathieu earns contract from Cards

Falcons receiver Julio Jones plans to reach out to the family of the man injured during an accident at his Atlanta home.

Falcons receiver Julio Jones plans to reach out to the family of the man injured during an accident at his Atlanta home.

ATLANTA — A worker was temporarily trapped this week when a retaining wall collapsed at the Gwinnett County home of an Atlanta Falcons player.

The man, whose name was not released, was working in a ditch when the wall collapsed around noon, pinning him face down against a concrete wall at the Buford home, according to Capt. Tommy Rutledge with the Gwinnett fire department. Property records show the home, located on Camp Branch Road, is owned by Falcons receiver Julio Jones.

Firefighters believe the man was pushed by dirt and concrete, which covered the majority of the man’s lower waist and lower body during the hour-long rescue, Rutledge said.

The victim was alert and able to talk through a 2-foot hole to firefighters, who worked to free the man while avoiding further collapse, Rutledge said. Shortly after 1 p.m., the man was freed and transported by ambulance to the hospital for evaluation.

“He was conscious and able to communicate verbally with firefighters,” Rutledge said in an emailed statement. “The extent and severity of injuries are unknown at this point.”

Because of the weight of the concrete, firefighters were concerned with the potential for the victim to suffer internal injuries, Rutledge said.

In a statement to Channel 2 Action News, the Atlanta Falcons said that Jones, 24, is a private person, but will likely reach out to the victim. Jones was a first-round draft pick for the team in 2011.

HONEY BADGER OFFICIALLY IN THE NFL: Tyrann Mathieu, the defensive back once known as Honey Badger at LSU, signed a four-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday, the team announced.

Financial terms of the contract weren’t disclosed by the team, but ESPN.com reported that the deal includes a guaranteed $662,500 signing bonus.

Mathieu was selected in the third round (No. 69 overall) in the NFL Draft in April.

“I’m part of a family now, so I’m obligated to the community and the entire Arizona Cardinals organization,” Mathieu said via the team’s website. “The Bidwill family, Steve Keim, the coaching staff, I’m obligated to everybody now, it’s my responsibility.”

Mathieu’s college career went up in flames after two steller seasons when LSU coach Les Miles dismissed him from the team in August before his junior year because of failed drug tests. Mathieu was coming off a sophomore season in which he was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Two months after his dismissal, Mathieu and three former teammates were arrested when police found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his apartment.

Despite the troubles that kept him off the field in 2012, Mathieu said he never doubted he would make it to the NFL.

“I knew it was a long shot and it would be a process, but to finally sit down and sign my name on the dotted line means a lot to me,” he said.

The contract stipulates annual incentives and roster bonuses will be paid if Mathieu avoids off-the-field issues and remains with the team.

“The deal is structured so that if Tyrann performs as we expect and has no problems, then he will be rightfully paid the entire value of the contract,” his agent, Patrick Lawlor, said.

PAYTON NOW NFL’S HIGHEST-PAID COACH: Sean Payton has taken over the title as America’s highest-paid coach.

Payton, coach of the New Orleans Saints, will make approximately $8 million per year for the next five seasons as part of a new contract. He replaces New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick atop the Forbes list.

Belichick is now tied for second with new Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Though Reid’s salary figures were not officially announced, it’s estimated that the former Philadelphia Eagles coach’s annual compensation is in the $7.5 million-per-year range with the Chiefs.

NFL coaches hold eight of the top-10 spots in the rankings. The only coaches outside the NFL on the list are Boston’s Boc Rivers ($7 million) and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich ($6 million).

The only other NBA coaches who top $4 million annually are Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau and Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks.

Newcomers to the overall Top 10 this year are Payton, Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants and Chip Kelly of the Philadelphia Eagles. Coughlin is working with a three-year, $20 million extension he received last summer and Kelly is in his first year of a five-year, $32.5 million contract after leaving the University of Oregon earlier this year.

Falling out of the op 10 were Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The average salary of coaches on the list is close to $7 million a year, an increase from $6.45 million in 2012.

The Forbes list is confined to American professional and college coaches. The highest paid college coach, Alabama’s Nick Saban at $5.3 million per year, did not crack the top 10.

If international soccer coaches were included, they would dominate the top 10.


Sanchez throws 3 picks in Jets’ first OTA workouts

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Hours after getting a rousing endorsement from the legendary Joe Namath, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions Wednesday’s OTA workout, drawing the ire of head coach Rex Ryan.

“Disappointing,” Ryan said of Sanchez’s performance. “Yeah, it is. Absolutely. It’s a good thing defense makes the plays, but no, I’d rather him not turn the ball over once.

“He did a lot of great things, and then those negative things, at the end of the day, that’s what gets you beat. And so we got to do a better job of eliminating those turnovers.”

Sanchez reportedly completed 6 of 11 passes with three interceptions and one sack in 15 snaps.

However, Smith didn’t capitalize on that as he looked shabby, too, completing three of 10 passes with one interception and one sack in 14 snaps.

On Tuesday Namath told the New York Daily News he was rooting for Sanchez.

“I am pulling for him,” Namath said of Sanchez. “I know that he can do better than he’s done. And we saw him lead a team to two AFC Championship Games, right?”