Thursday, January 17, 2008
Rams hire Loney to be offensive line coach
By Len Pasquarelli
The St. Louis Rams on Thursday night filled their vacancy for an offensive line mentor by hiring league veteran assistant coach Steve Loney, ESPN.com has learned.
Loney, 55, replaces Paul Boudreau, who was dismissed by head coach Scott Linehan shortly after the 2007 season ended. Loney served as the interim head coach at Drake University this season, leading the Bulldogs to a 6-5 record. He took over the program when incumbent Rob Ash resigned to take the job at Montana State, leaving Drake without a head coach in mid-June.
The school recently hired Chris Chreighton as its permanent head coach.
Most recently in the NFL, Loney served as offensive line coach for the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, his second stint with the franchise. He had previously worked with the Cardinals in the early 1990s. He also served as the Minnesota Vikings' offensive line coach for three seasons (2002-04) and was offensive coordinator for one year (2005).
Linehan was the Vikings' offensive coordinator during the three seasons Loney served as the offensive line coach.
During Loney's tenure as line coach in Minnesota, the Vikings led the league in rushing offense in 2002 and in total offense in 2003 and set a franchise record for total yards in 2004. He is highly regarded for his emphasis on technique work and for his design of the running game.
Linehan last week hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running backs coach Art Valero, and there was some speculation he would take over the offensive line role, but his job title was kept open-ended as the Rams considered other candidates for the position. Valero, who also has some experience working with Linehan, will probably now be slotted as the assistant head coach.
On Thursday, Linehan interviewed current Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Hue Jackson for the same position on the Rams' staff. Jackson is still under contract to Atlanta, but the Falcons have granted him permission to seek other jobs as the team continues its search for a new coach to succeed Bobby Petrino.
The Rams are seeking a replacement for Greg Olson, who was Linehan's offensive coordinator the past two seasons.
In addition to Jackson, the Rams this week interviewed Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese for the offensive coordinator vacancy. Linehan has discussed the job with two recently dismissed league head coaches, Brian Billick (Baltimore) and Cam Cameron (Miami), but has not formally interviewed either man for the position.
Jackson, 42, has been in the NFL for seven seasons and worked with Washington (2001-03), Cincinnati (2004-2006) and Atlanta (2007). He was recently a candidate for the head coach job at Duke University but did not land that position.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.