Thursday, January 16, 2014
Lions retain ST coach John Bonamego
By Michael Rothstein
New Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell met with the team's assistants still under contract Thursday afternoon and came away with at least one holdover hire from Jim Schwartz's staff.
Special-teams coach John Bonamego will return to the team for a second season.
Bonamego was instrumental in the success of Detroit rookie punter Sam Martin, who had a 41-yard net average this season and a 47.2-yard gross average. He was almost a consensus pick as an All-Rookie punter this season.
The Lions were also seventh in punt return yardage this season with 474 yards. The team had a punt and kick returned for a touchdown -- both from returner Jeremy Ross.
Detroit also was strong in coverage, finding two capable gunners in Ross and Don Carey. The Lions' punt coverage team was among the best in the NFL.
Bonamego came over from Jacksonville after the 2012 season.
Detroit struggled with field goals this season, having two blocked as well as an extra point. But kicker David Akers is a free agent as well as long-snapper Don Muhlbach. Akers is not expected to be brought back by the team as the Lions have signed two kickers, John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio, to reserve/futures contracts.
The Lions have also not retained three coaches -- with more staying and going likely to come. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and wide receivers coach Tim Lappano were let go the day Schwartz was fired. The Lions' team reporter also said assistant wide receiver coach Kyle Valero was let go. According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, quarterbacks coach Todd Downing has not been retained by the team.
The Lions are also expected to hire Baltimore defensive backs coach Teryl Austin as the team's defensive coordinator, but that has not been officially announced yet.