The New Orleans Saints have designated offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as the interim head coach for the first six regular-season games, when assistant head coach Joe Vitt will have to serve his suspension in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.

Vitt has been overseeing head coaching duties since Sean Payton's full season suspension began in mid-April, but the Saints initially held off on a decision concerning who would become the figurehead for the coaching staff when Vitt had to step aside in Week 1.

The 45-year-old Kromer is in his fifth season with the Saints and also serves as running game coordinator.

COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF PUNTER: Longtime-NFL punter Tom Tupa is eligible for workers compensation for a career-ending injury he suffered while warming up for a preseason game in 2005 at FedEx Field while playing for the Washington Redskins, Maryland's highest court ruled on Wednesday. The court rejected the idea that football injuries should not be considered accidental because of the rough nature of the sport. Tupa's injury happened "out of and in the course of (his) employment," the Maryland Court of Appeals said in its 16-page opinion.

SMITH HAS BECOME "SAVANT-LIKE": Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Wednesday that quarterback Alex Smith has become "savant-like" in his understanding of the San Francisco 49ers' West Coast system. But one area where both Smith and the team would like to see the eighth-year veteran improve is in his ability to recognize and elude pass rush pressure.

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STEVE SMITH OUT WITH INFECTION: Steve Smith was on crutches after being treated for what the Carolina Panthers described as a left foot infection. Coach Ron Rivera says Smith is being treated with antibiotics, but the wide receiver's status for the remainder of the preseason is unknown.

YOUNG SEEKS LEGAL PROTECTION: Vince Young filed a request seeking a protective court order to stop a loan company, Pro Player Funding, from collecting nearly $1.7 million on a loan the Buffalo quarterback said he has no knowledge of ever taking out.