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Falcons turn to Thomas as interim head coach

The Atlanta Falcons selected defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas as the team's interim head coach on Wednesday, according to NFL Network's Adam Schefter.

Thomas replaces Bobby Petrino, who resigned to become coach at Arkansas.

Thomas will serve out the final three games of the regular season following the sudden resignation of Petrino on Tuesday to return to college coaching.

The Falcons have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. ET to address the situation. Team owner Arthur Blank and general manager Rich McKay are expected to speak at the news conference.

Thomas will direct the team's practice Wednesday afternoon.

It was not known if all other assistants under Petrino, including his brother, wide receivers coach Paul Petrino, would remain for the final three games.

Thomas was selected to the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1986 after a 13-year career that included a team-record 58 interceptions.

In August, the seniors committee added Thomas to the list of semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2008. The inductees will be decided the day before the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2008.

Thomas began his coaching career in 1979 as defensive coordinator at Central Missouri State. His first job as an NFL assistant came in 1981 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was an assistant with the Washington Redskins from 1986-94, where he coached wide receivers and then defensive backs for teams that won two Super Bowls.

Thomas also won a Super Bowl ring as a player with Kansas City.

He played quarterback at Bishop College before joining the Chiefs as an undrafted player. He led the league in interceptions twice.

Thomas' son, Derek Thomas, is in his fifth year as the basketball coach at Western Illinois.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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