Mark Brunell the latest ex-player to join Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions staff

Detroit Free Press

Dave Birkett
 
| Detroit Free Press

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Whoever the Detroit Lions draft to be Matthew Stafford’s successor will have an accomplished former NFL quarterback to help teach him the game.

The Lions announced the hiring of Mark Brunell as their quarterbacks coach Friday, along with the previously reported additions of running backs coach Duce Staley and inside linebackers coach Makr DeLeone.

Brunell has never coached in the NFL, but he played 19 seasons for five NFL teams —most prominently with the Jacksonville Jaguars — and made three Pro Bowls. He played with Campbell on the 2009 New Orleans Saints team that won the Super Bowl.

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In retirement, Brunell has coached high school football in Jacksonville and spent the past five seasons as a mentor to draft-eligible quarterbacks at the combine.

“I love the game and it’s just a really great place to be because I think of all the people who had a huge influence in my life, for the most part it was on the football field,” Brunell told the Associated Press last year. “So, to influence that for somebody else is special.”

A fifth-round pick by the Green Bay Packers out of the University of Washington in 1993, Brunell spent nine seasons with the Jaguars and remains the franchise’s all-time passing leader. He led the NFL in passing in 1996 and helped the Jaguars reach two AFC championship games.

In Detroit, Brunell will help tutor a new quarterback after the Lions trade longtime starter Matthew Stafford.

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Stafford, who turns 33 next week, asked the team for a trade earlier this month and the Lions are currently shopping the 12-year vet.

The Lions have the No. 7 pick in the NFL draft and could use the choice on a quarterback. Along with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence — the presumptive No. 1 overall pick — BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance are other quarterbacks expected to go in Round 1.

Brunell is the fifth former NFL player to join Campbell’s staff.

Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn appeared in 83 games as a running back with the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers; defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn was a teammate of Campbell’s with the Dallas Cowboys; offensive line coach Hank Fraley played 10 seasons with three teams; and Staley ran for nearly 6,000 yards in his career.

Campbell played 11 seasons with the Cowboys, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints.

The Lions have expressed interest in two more ex-NFL players, former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward to be their wide receivers coach and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to coach outside linebackers.

Sheppard played with the Miami Dolphins in 2014-15, when Campbell was tight ends coach and later interim head coach with the team.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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