The Detroit Lions will have a new tight ends coach in 2023.
The Lions are hiring former Arizona Cardinals assistant Steve Heiden to coach tight ends, ESPN reported Monday.
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Heiden’s addition is one of several changes expected to the Lions’ assistant coaching ranks. Heiden spent the past 10 seasons with the Cardinals, including the past four as tight ends coach.
He played 11 NFL seasons at tight end (1999-2009) with the San Diego Chargers and Cleveland Browns and was taken 10 picks before Lions coach Dan Campbell, another ex-NFL tight end, in the 1999 NFL draft. He started his coaching career at Concordia University in 2012, joining the Cardinals as assistant special teams/assistant tight ends coach a year later.
Heiden replaces Tanner Engstrand, who served as tight ends coach/pass game coordinator last season. Engstrand’s role for 2023 is not immediately clear.
The Lions set a franchise record with 12 receiving touchdowns by tight ends this season, despite trading top tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings at the trade deadline. Brock Wright and Shane Zylstra had four touchdowns each, Hockenson had three in seven games before his trade, and rookie fifth-round pick James Mitchell had one.
The Lions, coming off a 9-8 season, could return all three of their coordinators for 2023.
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson will return for a second season as play caller after interviewing for head coaching vacancies with the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp is expected back for a third season in that role. And defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn remains on staff for now after interviewing with the Cardinals and Colts. Glenn is one of the top candidates for the Arizona job, NFL Network reported.
The Lions have at least one other opening after firing defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant at midseason.
Contact Dave Birkett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.