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Panthers RB arrested

Panthers running back Fred Lane was arrested on weapons and drug charges Wednesday night after police found a loaded gun in the trunk of his Mercedes, authorities said.

Police in Lane's hometown of Jackson, Tenn., stopped his car, which was carrying three male passengers, after they saw it moving slowly on a side street, Police Chief Rick Staples said.

Two undercover narcotics officers approached the vehicle as three men got out and moved toward the trunk, Staples said.

The officers found a loaded .22-caliber assault-style rifle in the trunk. Upon searching the four men, the officers found 1.3 grams of marijuana on Lane and 4 grams on Bryant Peoples of Charlotte, N.C., Staples said.

All four were charged with possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to go armed, and Lane and Peoples, both 24, were charged with possession of marijuana.

Lane and Peoples left jail after each posted $1,000 bail Thursday morning. Howard Burns and Rodney Simmons, both 24 and of Jackson, remained in custody.

Lane rushed for 475 yards and one touchdown on 115 carries and caught 23 passes for 163 yards last season. His arrest comes less than two months after teammate Rae Carruth was arrested and charged with murder.

Lawyer: Lewis unaware of stabbings

ATLANTA _ Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis was unaware two men had been killed in a brawl when he and others left a Super Bowl party in a limousine, his lawyer said.

The Ravens star didn't know about the stabbings until he heard news reports hours later, lawyer Ed Garland said.

"He did not have a knife, he did not use a knife, he did not engage in a fight, he did not promote a fight," Garland said. "Mere presence where a crime takes place is not a crime under American law, nor in the state of Georgia."

An arrest warrant drawn up by police said Lewis "repeatedly stabbed" the two victims, but Garland said that was inaccurate.

One report supports Garland's statement. Tony Toskov, owner of All Stretched Out Limousine Service in Baltimore, said his driver, Duane Fassett, did not see who stabbed Baker and Lollar but knows Lewis did not do it.

Lewis is charged with two counts of murder in the slayings early Monday of Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinth "Shorty" Baker, 21. He is being held until a Feb. 24 bond hearing.

Asked if Lewis knows who killed the men, Garland said: "He does have some limited knowledge." Garland said he will interview all people who were with Lewis when he got into the limo rented in Maryland. He said at least eight people joined Lewis but declined to identify them.

He said four or five shots were fired at the limousine as it drove away, but he was unaware of any shots fired from inside the car.

An Atlanta television station reported late Wednesday that an argument over sports teams led to the slayings. Fox affiliate WAGA-TV, citing a witness' account, said Lewis attempted in vain to break up the fight, then became involved.

Haslett has plan for Saints

NEW ORLEANS _ Jim Haslett, who knows all about Saints history, is back as coach armed with a plan to end the eight-year slump.

"I don't want to talk about numbers," Haslett said. "But I'll promise this, we'll have a well-run program that plays hard and does all the right things that are conducive to winning."

Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was in the running until the last minute.

Haslett, 44, received a three-year contract. The Associated Press reported his salary is between $600,000 and $1-million.

Haslett, defensive coordinator in Pittsburgh since 1997, was the Saints' defensive coordinator in 1996 and coached linebackers in 1995.

After the 1995 season, Haslett was offered the Bucs' defensive coordinator's job but declined. Haslett then took over for his boss, Monte Kiffin, who took the Tampa Bay job.

BEARS: Marcus Robinson, who set a franchise record with 1,400 receiving yards last season, agreed to a four-year, $14.4-million contract that includes a $5-million signing bonus. Robinson had 84 receptions and nine touchdowns.

BROWNS: Cleveland, which has the top draft pick and has said its top priority is to add weapons for quarterback Tim Couch, said Peter Warrick's troubles are not a concern.

PATRIOTS: New England's new stadium very likely won't be ready for occupancy until the 2002 season, a year later than planned.

RAMS: Coach Mike Martz, who as Redskins quarterbacks coach helped develop Trent Green, wants to keep Green as insurance for Kurt Warner. Martz said the matter will be decided before the free agency period begins Feb. 11. The Rams would take a $3-million salary cap hit by trading Green.