Green Bay Packers: Ron Zook

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Over the last two weeks and leading up to the Green Bay Packers' first training camp practice on Saturday, we broke down each position group.

We wrap up the series with special teams.

Returning players: Mason Crosby (K), Tim Masthay (P), Brett Goode (LS).

Gone from last season: None.

New this season: None

Position coach: Shaun Slocum (sixth season, also spent three seasons as assistant special teams coach).

Crosby
Biggest issue: Despite a major rebound by Crosby, who had his best career season in 2013 following his worst in 2012, and another strong season by Masthay, the Packers finished 20th out of 32 teams in the Dallas Morning News' highly-regarded annual special teams rankings. Where did Slocum's unit struggle the most? Perhaps it was in covering kicks. Opponents started drives at an average of the 25.6-yard line, the best field position in the league last season.

Player to watch: Perhaps the most important person to keep an eye on this summer is not a player but rather a new addition to the coaching staff. Coach Mike McCarthy brought in former Illinois and Florida head coach Ron Zook to assist Slocum in coaching special teams. It's unusual for a 60-year-old veteran coach to serve in a position normally reserved for a young, up-and-coming coach, but it speaks to McCarthy's commitment to improving this unit. Zook coached special teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-98. He also has previous experience with McCarthy. The two were on New Orleans Saints coaching staff together in 2000 and 2001.

Medical report: There are no known injury issues.

Help wanted: While the Packers are set with their specialists, the return job might be wide open. The Packers seem unlikely to put receiver Randall Cobb back on return duties, but they would like someone just as dangerous. Defensive back Micah Hyde finished last season as the primary returner on both kickoffs and punts. Hyde, who was more effective as a punt returner, will face competition from several players. The most likely challenger might be rookie receiver Jared Abbrederis, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin.

Quotable: "I thought we had a good year in a couple of areas and did poorly in one particular area, and that's explosive gains in coverage," Slocum said of last season. "That's something we've really got to improve. Can't give up explosive gains and expect to win field position or games."

Previous installments

July 14: Quarterbacks

July 15: Running backs

July 16: Receivers

July 17: Tight ends

July 18: Offensive line

July 21: Defensive line

July 22: Linebackers

July 23: Cornerbacks

July 24: Safeties

Meet the coaches: Alex Van Pelt

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
4:00
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced changes to his coaching staff.

This week, some of the new coaches and some of the returning ones with new responsibilities met with reporters.

We've introduced you to them throughout the week – running backs coach Sam Gash, assistant special teams coach Ron Zook, assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley and assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss – and we’ll conclude with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt.

The 43-year-old Van Pelt has spent the past two seasons as the Packers' running backs coach before being promoted to replace Ben McAdoo, who left last month to become the New York Giants' offensive coordinator.

For Van Pelt, it’s a return to his natural position. He played nine seasons in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, mostly as a backup quarterback from 1995-2003. He also coached quarterbacks for the Bills (2008-09) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2010-2011) before reuniting with McCarthy, who coached Van Pelt in college at the University of Pittsburgh.

Now, Van Pelt will be charged with preparing Aaron Rodgers on a weekly basis while also developing a capable backup.

Here’s what Van Pelt had to say on:

His dual role of coaching Rodgers and developing a backup: “There has to be a separation of the two. You have to coach the younger guys anytime you get a chance. It might just be in the middle of a special-teams drill. Those extra times when you can grab the younger guys and bring them along. The quarterback school we do here is built that way to help them all. The thing with Aaron, there's not a lot of new things you're going to be able to teach or show him or tell him. It's continually stimulating him and trying to help him challenge himself, so to speak.”

What he can teach Rodgers: “It's tough to say you're going to go out and teach Aaron Rodgers how to throw the football. My job is to continually challenge him, to make him think and learn about things that haven't been emphasized in a while. Point out areas where I think we can improve in. For a guy like Aaron, it's really about continuing to challenge him and make him come to work and have to think differently than he has in the past to maybe stimulate and keep him growing as a quarterback. It's tough for a guy who's at the top of the charts in that area, but that's our job as coaches to continually stimulate these guys and challenge them, and get the best out of them."

His tenure as running backs coach: “I think anytime you can now see the game through the eyes of the running back and the quarterback, that's big. Aaron, like I've said in the past, has done a tremendous job of in the running game, understanding the schemes and the angles and leverage of the players, and getting us into positive run plays. That's huge. I think he already has that, but anytime you can go outside of your area and try to learn and get better is only going to help you as a coach.”

Coaching a position he also played: “I don't think it's necessary, but I think it definitely helps. I think you speak from experiences that you've had on the playing field and locker rooms. Is it necessary? No.”

Scott Tolzien’s future: “I like Scott. I think Scott is a tough, tenacious guy who has a presence to him. He's a natural leader. His work ethic is sensational. … I could see him around here [at] 7, 8 o'clock at night going over the cadence downstairs by himself. Things like that. Obviously he's a self-starter. Physically, he has the physical tools to be a player. This system is complicated for a quarterback, so I think he'll grow in another year of the system and understanding all the adjustments. Those will just help him."

Matt Flynn’s future: “Matt has a great track record. He's been successful in this system. His understanding of the system is huge. It's very tough to operate as a quarterback in this system with all the flexibility you have to be able to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Having an understanding of the system is huge for him. The way he fits in the locker room, especially in the quarterback room, the things he does to get Aaron ready to play on Sundays are little things that are hidden sometimes when you're looking at guys, so I'm excited to hopefully get him back in there.”

Meet the coaches: Winston Moss

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
12:45
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced changes to his coaching staff.

This week, some of the new coaches and some of the returning ones with new responsibilities met with reporters.

We'll introduce you to them throughout the week. First, there was running backs coach Sam Gash followed by assistant special teams coach Ron Zook and then assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley.

Moss
Next up is assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss, who added outside linebackers to his duties.

The 48-year-old former NFL linebacker for 11 seasons with the Buccaneers, Raiders and Seahawks has been on McCarthy's staff since the beginning. In 2006 he was the linebackers coach before being promoted to assistant head coach the following season.

When Dom Capers was hired as defensive coordinator in 2009 and converted the Packers from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme, Moss worked exclusively with the inside linebackers. But with the resignation of outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene last month, Moss took over all of the linebackers, along with help from McCurley.

Here's what Moss had to say on:

Consolidating the linebackers into one group: "I'm sure that dynamic will take care of itself. If you've noticed, those guys really get along well. A.J. [Hawk] has really developed as far as being a very good communicator and interacted extremely well with the defense this past year. Now, those guys just being in the same room, I think that they'll really be able to share more than anything. And so, that should really help out, just the continuity, just the chemistry and camaraderie. Those are all positive things."

Evolving as a coach: "I think there's an experience factor. I think I keep it very, very simple. I'm very demanding. I'm very consistent. I'm very fair. The main thing that I focus on is identifying what each and every single person goes about their skill-set and goes about their way differently. I try to identify and I try to push their buttons. I think that I would try to coach A.J. differently than I would try to coach Brad [Jones]. I think that I would speak to Jamari Lattimore differently than the way I spoke to Robert [Francois]. I have experience with Clay [Matthews] and [Nick] Perry and the rest of those [outside linebackers]. Obviously, once I have that one-on-one relationship with them to where on a day-to-basis that I can focus on them, then I will be able to grow with them and find out. It's all going to be a relationship in which it's going to be based upon trusting one another and getting to know one another. From there, we would anticipate everything working out very well."

His interaction with the outside linebackers in the past: "No more than any other position. I think the outside linebackers, as much as the outside linebackers have a coordination with the inside guys, you can say the same thing about the defensive line, the safeties and the corners. I think I have been able to interact with all positions very well, so the outside linebackers will be just one part of my [job]."

This being a good career move: "I wish I can give you a great answer but to be perfectly honest with you, my focus right now has been expanded not to two positions but in essence four positions. So my focus is clearly to get those guys to play at the highest level possible."
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Packers want to keep their restricted free agents -- safety M.D. Jennings and linebacker Jamari Lattimore -- they shouldn't have much trouble.

It's unlikely that teams would make either one a substantial offer, if any offer at all, that would force the Packers to decide whether or not to match it.

The bigger issue might be whether or not the Packers will tender either one of them.

As ESPN's John Clayton wrote this week, the lowest tender for a restricted free agent in 2014 is $1.389 million. That tender would give the Packers the right of first refusal if another team made an offer, but would give them no competition if they chose not to match it.

The other tender offers -- $3 million and$2.124 million -- would carry first- and second-round compensation, respectively, if the teams did not match offers.

What the Packers have to ask themselves is if either Jennings or Lattimore is worth that kind of money. We can safely rule out that they would be candidates for the top-two tenders, and even a salary of $1.389 million might be a stretch.

Although Jennings was a starter last season, the Packers almost certainly will look to upgrade his spot. Lattimore was a fill-on on defense and a core special teams player.

The Packers could decide not to tender either one and perhaps try to sign them for something closer to the minimum for a fourth-year player, which is $645,000.

The deadline for teams to place tenders on their restricted free agents is March 11 at 4 p.m. ET.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com: Best of the rest:

Meet the coaches: Scott McCurley

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
12:30
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced changes to his coaching staff.

McCurley
This week, some of the new coaches and some of the returning ones with new responsibilities met with reporters.

We'll introduce you to them throughout the week. First, there was running backs coach Sam Gash and then assistant special teams coach Ron Zook.

Next up is assistant linebackers coach Scott McCurley.

The 33-year-old McCurley isn't new to the Packers; he has been with them since 2006, when McCarthy took over. But he is in a new, higher-profile role.

The former linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a walk-on turned four-year letterman, began his NFL coaching career in Green Bay as an administrative intern before being promoted to a coaching administrator in 2007 and to a defensive quality control coach in 2009.

In those roles, he worked closely with defensive coordinator Dom Capers on the weekly scouting reports and game plans. Capers, an old-school coach, prefers to make hand-written notes, and one of McCurley's jobs was to input everything into a computer.

McCurley will leave that job to someone else now that he will be assisting Winston Moss with the linebackers. It's part of the revamped way linebackers will be coached following the departure of Kevin Greene, who previously coached outside linebackers.

Here's what McCurley had to say on:

His role as Capers' computer specialist: "It's huge because you really get to see Dom's thoughts and how he's putting everything together. From the front to back, and it all works together. I really think that's something you need to take advantage of, being in that role, you get a chance to learn it all. Now, I've sat with different positions in different meetings, but really to be able to sit and be able to, first-hand, take Dom's work and put it together, it's been huge in my development."

His new role: "You know, Winston, he's really going to be the leader of the group. I think the players have a huge amount of respect for Winston's leadership and what he brings to the table there, and from there, you know, I'm there to assist him, whether it be inside guys or outside guys. I feel comfortable with either one of those positions, I think I can teach either one of those positions, I can coach them on the field, and really there just to assist Winston in wherever he wants to break off. If he wants to, if he needs to do something, I can take the other area. It's still in development, how we're going to work all that out, where I'm going to go, where he's going to go, but he's the leader of the group and I'll be there to do whatever he needs me to get done."

Becoming a position assistant: "It's huge for me. For the past five years, I've done my job and done it as well as I can. But the ultimate goal is to earn the respect to move up and be a part of a position group. So that's really what the next goal was, and it's great that the coach is giving me the opportunity."

Getting a pay raise: "My wife's not going to argue with that, that's for sure."

His career aspirations: "Oh yeah, I'll go as far as I can. I'll keep doing this job as well as I can and help out Winston and from there, wherever it goes, I'll take it as far as I can."

Breaking into NFL coaching with the Packers:: It's been phenomenal. Just the organization itself, I came from Pitt, and we shared facilities with the Steelers, and I was a lifelong Steeler fan, there's nothing to hide there. But I had a lot of respect for that organization, and then you come here and it's such a good organization with good people, and you hear the stories about coaches moving around and they come from different places and they say, well it's not the same there. You get everything you need here, all the resources, and it's been a great place."
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – There's been a lot of talk from tight end Jermichael Finley's camp lately about the fact that he expects to be cleared by the doctor who performed his vertebra fusion surgery.

He first mentioned it during interviews at the Super Bowl.

And on Wednesday, his agent, Blake Baratz, reiterated that in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Baratz said that Dr. Joseph Maroon, who operated on Finley's neck last year, told him and Finley there is a "99.9 percent chance the fusion will fully heal" likely in the next 4-8 weeks. Once Maroon is sure that the fusion healed, he would clear Finley for "full football activity."

That's all well and good, but what does it mean?

Just because Maroon declares it safe for Finley to resume his career doesn't mean that any team will follow suit. Maroon doubles as the Pittsburgh Steelers' doctor, so his word carries a little more weight than a non-NFL affiliated surgeon, but it will be up to any team interested in Finley to make up its own mind likely with the consult of its own team doctors.

The Packers will be the first team with that chance provided Maroon can make a ruling before free agency opens on March 11.

But, as we've written before, the situation two years ago with safety Nick Collins is reason to wonder whether the Packers will opt to let Finley's contract run out without extending it before free agency opens.

Collins had the same surgery in the same spot -- the C-3 and C-4 vertebra -- and the Packers wouldn't clear him to return. He had another year left on his contract, but the team released him. He has not played since.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com: Best of the rest:
  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde wrote that new Packers quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt would like to have free-agent backup Matt Flynn back for another season.
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause wrote that Packers president Mark Murphy, who is on the NFL's competition committee, sounds like he's in favor of expanding the playoffs (and possibly shortening the preseason) but thinks it might not have enough support to pass this offseason.

Meet the coaches: Ron Zook

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
2:45
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Last week, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy announced changes to his coaching staff.

This week, some of the new coaches and some of the returning ones with new responsibilities met with reporters.

We’ll introduce you to them throughout the week. First up was new running backs coach Sam Gash.

Next up is special teams assistant coach Ron Zook.

Zook, 59, has more than 30 years of coaching experience in both college and the NFL. He’s best known for his head coaching stints at Florida and Illinois, although he was fired from both jobs.

[+] EnlargeRon Zook
AP Photo/Seth Perlman, FileRon Zook is excited to reunite with Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
He hasn’t coached since his tenure with the Illini ended in 2011, and he last coached in the NFL in 2001, when he was the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. McCarthy was the offensive coordinator on that same coaching staff, and the two actually lived together for a time in New Orleans.

Zook broke into the NFL as a special teams coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-98.

Here’s what Zook had to say on:

His relationship with McCarthy: “First of all, Mike knows how I am. He knows my personality, he knows the relationship I had with the players, which I think is very, very important. I think coaching at times is trying to get players to play the best that they can play. It’s not necessarily what the coach knows, and that’s the way Mike was. Mike develops players, and I think what I know of the Green Bay Packers organization, it’s an organization that develops players, and I think that’s very important.”

Relating to NFL players: “I think it’s all about relationships. I think you go back and look at coaches at any level -- high school, college and the NFL -- I’ve had the opportunity to coach at all three levels. It comes down to getting a player to play the best he can. And I can remember my first time when I interviewed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, I asked coach [Bill] Cowher, ‘How do you coach these guys?’ He said, ‘Well, you coach ’em just like you coach your guys.’ I found that to be 100 percent true.”

Whether he thought he would ever coach again: “The first year [out of coaching], I probably needed it. I remember Marty Schottenheimer saying one time about every five years everybody needs to take a break, but nobody’s going to do that, because it’s so hard to get back in it. But this past year, something you’ve done for 35 years, you miss the relationships, you miss the camaraderie that you have, the stories sitting around the coaches, you know. My wife wanted me to get back in the NFL for a long time. She loved the NFL.”

If it was hard to go back to being an assistant: “Not at all. To me, I was able to get back in coaching for the reasons I got into coaching. Because I love the game. You love the relationships you have with the players, the relationships you have with the coaches, and to me, like I said, to be able to get back in an organization like the Green Bay Packers is really special.”

Regrets about his tenure at Illinois and Florida: “I look back on both situations, and in fact I told [Florida coach] Will Muschamp not long ago, I said ‘Will, if you and I would have had the teams to start with that coach [Steve] Spurrier and Urban Meyer had, it would have been different for us, too.’ At Illinois, we went to the Rose Bowl, I took a team to the Rose Bowl. We didn’t have a player on our team that had ever been to a bowl game. And the Rose Bowl is pretty hard to break ’em in. But still, it’s the way it is. It’s the profession, and I can look back, would I have done some things differently? Probably, but I think anybody can say that.”

Whether he wants to be a head coach again: “When I went into the NFL the first time, it wasn’t to be a head coach. It was to be a coach. And to make a long story short ... I wasn’t going to go to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was living in Gainesville, Fla., I was the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. You know we just got done with recruiting. Coach Spurrier, he’s not one of them guys that spends much time in the office in the offseason, and when I got done with Bill Cowher, I knew I had to go. I just didn’t know if I was going to talk myself into it. And thank God I did. Once again, there’s no question, coaching special teams helped me when I became a head football coach.”
A roundup of what's happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Mike McCarthy now has a former running back coaching running backs and a former quarterback coaching quarterbacks.

Not that it's imperative to do it that way but in his most recent restructuring, McCarthy has restored some order to his staff with Sam Gash in charge of the running backs and Alex Van Pelt tutoring the quarterbacks.

Van Pelt, an NFL quarterback for nine years with the Buffalo Bills, spent the past two seasons coaching the Packers' running backs. It was the first time working at that position for him after serving as a quarterbacks coach with the Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

McCarthy said he hired Van Pelt two years ago not necessarily because he thought he would excel as the running backs coach -- although he did so -- but in part to one day move him up on his staff.

“I think it definitely has broadened his horizons as far as coaching offense,” McCarthy said of Van Pelt. “I know he's very appreciative of the two years coaching running backs. But he's a quarterback coach. You're talking about a very talented football coach, played the position, knows this offense.”

Van Pelt replaced Ben McAdoo, who spent two years coaching quarterbacks despite having never played the position. McAdoo was hired last month as the New York Giants offensive coordinator.

“Anybody can coach the position,” Van Pelt said. “The only thing [having played quarterback] gives you is the ability to say, ‘Hey, I experienced this.' That's about it in that regard. I actually took a five-step drop and had to pressure out to the right side and threw an interception. I know what that's like. I've done that. That's really about all it does give you is [the ability to] say ‘Hey, I've had these experiences and this is what I've learned from them.'”

Meanwhile, Gash, a former teammate of Van Pelt's in Buffalo, was twice a Pro Bowl fullback in his 12-year NFL playing career and spent six seasons as the Detroit Lions running backs coach before sitting out of coaching last season.

“I've always like Sam Gash,” McCarthy said. “He's an excellent fit for us. He's played the position. He's coached running backs. He did a very good job in the interview process. He's worked with Alex Van Pelt in the past, I think his transition will be very easy to our offense.”

In its current form, McCarthy's offensive staff includes four players who were NFL players at the position they now coach -- Gash, Van Pelt, offensive line coach James Campen (offensive line) and Joel Hilgenberg (assistant offensive line). In fact, all of his offensive position coaches played in the NFL. Tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot was an offensive lineman, and receivers coaches Edgar Bennett was a running back.

In case you missed it on ESPN.com:
  • In the wake of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam revealing that he is gay, McCarthy said the Packers would view him like any other player in the draft and would evaluate him based on his playing ability and his character.
  • Despite some juggling of responsibilities on his defensive staff, McCarthy said he's committed to sticking with a 3-4 defense -- albeit with some tweaks.
  • The Packers might have the most overqualified assistant special teams coach in the NFL with the addition of two-time former college head coach Ron Zook in that role. But both McCarthy and Zook see it as a good fit.
  • Finally, please join me in our weekly Packers chat at 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. in Green Bay and the surrounding areas). You can submit questions ahead of time or do it in real time. Either way, it can be found by clicking here.
Best of the rest:
  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause wrote that assistant head coach Winston Moss, whose role was expanded this offseason to coach both inside and outside linebackers, believes improvement on defense will come through technique and fundamentals rather than a change in scheme.
  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein wrote that Gash compared running back Eddie Lacy to Pro Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, who was Gash's teammate with the New England Patriots.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Assistant special teams coaches in the NFL are usually neophyte coaches or former players trying to break into the business.

Rarely are they 59-year-olds who have held head coaching jobs at two prominent top-level colleges and also NFL coordinator jobs.

It wasn't lost on Ron Zook that his new position as the Green Bay Packers assistant special teams coach was a bit unusual, when he met with reporters on Monday for the first time since he was hired last week.

[+] EnlargeRon Zook
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Packers will turn to Ron Zook to help with special teams.
“Coaching's coaching; I wanted the opportunity to get back in the profession, I really did,” said Zook, the former Florida and Illinois head coach who had been out of football since he was fired in 2011 after seven seasons with the Illini.

“The first year out, I probably needed it just to kind of collect your thoughts and so forth. This past year, I really began to miss it. I told some people, one of the most exciting things for me is getting back into coaching for the reasons I got into coaching: because I love the game, I love the camaraderie, I love being around the players and the coaches and trying to help get everybody on the same page trying to do the same thing.”

Even Zook isn't quite sure exactly what his role will be, but coach Mike McCarthy knows he wants more attention paid to special teams, which struggled at times last season. McCarthy didn't feel that the problems warranted a complete change, which is why he retained special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, but he appears set on dedicating more resources to it. He also has assigned Jason Simmons, a coaching administrator the last three seasons, to assist with special teams.

“I wanted to put more of an emphasis on that area,” McCarthy said. “One of our challenges ever year with youth, some of the injuries we've had with younger players playing early, there's a lot of one-on-one time that goes into special teams coaching. Everybody in the league goes through it. We just want to maximize that structure as far as to make sure our players are getting the one-on-one time, and I thought Ron brought a whole different dimension to the room.”

Zook was a natural fit for McCarthy. The two worked together with the New Orleans Saints for two seasons (2000 and 2001) when McCarthy was the offensive coordinator and Zook the defensive coordinator before Zook returned to the college ranks to coach the Gators.

In fact, Zook and McCarthy lived together during their early days with the Saints before Zook's family moved to New Orleans. Even after Zook's wife and kids joined him, they lived down the street from McCarthy.

Packers assistant head coach/linebackers coach Winston Moss also was with them in New Orleans, and Zook coached Packers safeties coach Darren Perry during their days with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Zook was the special teams coach from 1996-98.

“So you've got guys that you know and everybody's looking for the same thing, and that's to win,” Zook said. “That was what was important to me, being in a situation where you had a chance to win and being around good people.”

McCarthy mentioned Zook's energy and enthusiasm, something that was apparent throughout his 20-minute session with reporters on Monday. Zook spoke openly about both his successes, most notably the 2007 Rose Bowl team at Illinois; and his failures, being fired by both Florida and Illinois.

Zook also explained how he has spent the past two years out of football, working part-time as an analyst for CBS and also at a bank in Florida.

But perhaps it was what he did in his free time that was instrumental in his return to the NFL. He would make regular trips across the state to Tampa, Fla., where he would spend time watching film with ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden.

“I've spent I can't tell you how many hours, spent an awful lot of time with Jon Gruden,” Zook said. “I'd drive to Tampa, and we'd study football. We'd get ready for the draft, study programs that way, what's going on in both college and the NFL. So I was able to stay involved with the game in terms of the X's and O's part of it. But you miss the relationship side of it."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers have four new members of their coaching staff and five existing coaches with new or expanded roles.

In addition to hiring Ron Zook and Sam Gash, the Green Bay Packers hired two other new assistant coaches, Luke Getsy and former Packers linebacker Chris Gizzi.

Zook, the former Florida and Illinois head coach, will serve as the assistant special teams coach, while Gash will coach running backs.

Getsy will serve as offensive quality control coach, while Gizzi will be a strength and conditioning assistant.

Also, returning assistant coaches Winston Moss (assistant head coach/linebackers coach), Alex Van Pelt (quarterbacks coach), Scott McCurley (assistant linebackers coach), Jason Simmons (defensive/special teams assistant) and John Rushing (defensive quality control coach) all have new duties.

Including special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, who is returning for his sixth season, the Packers will now have three coaches working directly with special teams. Previously they had two -- Slocum and Chad Morton, who was not retained.

“The offseason is progressing with the finalization of adjustments and additions to our coaching staff,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said in a statement announcing the changes. “Every day and every decision has the focus on bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Green Bay. The evaluation process will continue with a vision to change, adjust or emphasize any aspect of our program to help us reach the attainable goal of another Super Bowl championship.”

Here’s a breakdown of their new coaches and the old ones with new duties:

Sam Gash, running backs coach: Coached running backs with the Detroit Lions from 2008-12. Replaces Van Pelt, who was promoted to quarterbacks coach after two seasons. Played 12 years in the NFL as a fullback with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens.

Ron Zook, assistant special teams coach: Returns to the NFL after spending the past two seasons out of coaching. Previously coached special teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-98). Also worked with McCarthy in New Orleans, where he was the Saints defensive coordinator (2000-01) and McCarthy was the offensive coordinator.

Luke Getsy, offensive quality control coach: A former college quarterback at Akron (2005-06). Previously the receivers coach at Western Michigan.

Chris Gizzi, strength and conditioning assistant: Played for the Packers in 2000 and 2001 and is perhaps best remembered for leading the Packers out of the tunnel carrying an American Flag in their first game following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Spent last offseason as an intern with the Packers before working as a strength and conditioning assistant at the University of North Carolina last season.

Winston Moss, assistant head coach/linebackers: Previously held the same title while coaching inside linebackers. Will add outside linebackers to his duties, inheriting that role from Kevin Greene after he resigned last month.

Scott McCurley, assistant linebackers coach: Has been with the Packers since 2007, including the last five as a defensive quality control coach. Will assist Moss will all linebackers.

John Rushing, defensive quality control: Served as an offensive and special teams assistant the past two seasons after spending two seasons as the offensive quality control coach.

Jason Simmons, defensive/special teams assistant: Served as a coaching administrator for the past three seasons.

Alex Van Pelt, quarterbacks coach: Replaced Ben McAdoo, who became the New York Giants offensive coordinator. Previously coached the Packers running backs for two seasons. Former NFL quarterback, served as a quarterbacks coach with the Bills (2008-09) and Buccaneers (2010-11).

Remaining in their current roles on the coaching staff are: Tom Clements (offensive coordinator), Dom Capers (defensive coordinator), Mark Lovat (strength and conditioning coordinator), Shawn Slocum (special teams coordinator), Edgar Bennett (receivers), James Campen (offensive line), Jerry Fotenot (tight ends), Joel Hilgenberg (assistant offensive line), Darren Perry (safeties), Mike Trgovac (defensive line), Joe Whitt Jr. (cornerbacks) and Thadeus Jackson (strength and conditioning assistant).

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