The Detroit Lions will have a new inside linebackers coach in 2022 after parting ways with Mark DeLeone.
DeLeone, the son of longtime college and NFL assistant George DeLeone, joined Dan Campbell’s staff last winter. Campbell and the elder DeLeone spent one season working together with the Miami Dolphins.
The Lions ranked 29th in total defense and 27th in points allowed last season, when they got inconsistent play from their linebacker unit.
The Lions cut veteran linebacker Jamie Collins three games into the season and used a rotation of Jalen Reeves-Maybin and rookie Derrick Barnes for part of the year alongside veteran Alex Anzalone.
Anzalone finished the season on injured reserve, Reeves-Maybin had his best season as a Lion and Barnes was slow developing as a fourth-round pick.
DeLeone worked closely with former Lions linebacker Chris Spielman, now a special assistant to owner Sheila Ford Hamp, at practices last season, and remained with the team at the Senior Bowl earlier this month.
Last week, senior defensive assistant Dom Capers left the Lions to take a similar position with the Denver Broncos, where he will work under new Broncos coordinator Ejiro Evero, his former quality control coach with the Green Bay Packers.
The Lions also fired offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn after the season and promoted tight ends coach Ben Johnson in his place. Lynn was stripped of play-calling duties at midseason.
Defensive quality control assistant Stephen Thomas, who played an elevated role coaching the defensive line at the Senior Bowl, was a former college linebackers coach with Princeton.
Former Lions player sues team, NFL
Kelley Johnson, a receiver who played briefly for the Lions in 1989, filed suit against the Lions, the NFL Players Association and the NFL management council in district court Wednesday claiming he was wrongfully denied disability benefits under the NFL’s player disability and survivor benefit plan. Johnson said in his suit he suffered a left knee injury in a preseason game with the Lions, underwent surgery a month later, retired because of the injury in 1990 and was never informed of his right to collect disability benefits. Johnson is seeking a full payout of benefits, plus interest, in his suit.