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Senior Bowl

Former Steelers RB Duce Staley to Coach American Team at Senior Bowl

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Duce Staley

For the first time, assistant coaches will be taking the reins at the Senior Bowl.

The top college all-star game has always been staffed by crews of NFL coaches, and this year, the coaching staffs of the New York Jets and Detroit Lions will put players through their paces. But head coaches Dan Campbell and Robert Saleh won’t be a part of the proceedings. Instead, they’ve chosen assistant coaches to elevate in their place. 

As a result, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Duce Staley will be the head coach of the American Team. Staley just finished his first season as the Lions’ assistant head coach and running backs coach under Campbell.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles as quality control coach, running backs coach and assistant head coach and was a part of their Super Bowl LII victory.

As a player, Staley spent the final three seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, playing from 2004-06 and winning Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season. He was drafted by Philadelphia out of South Carolina and spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Eagles.

This will be his first opportunity as a head coach. Staley’s American team will include North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell and Liberty quarterback Malik Willis, along with running backs Brian Robinson of Alabama and James Cook of Georgia.

“We as a staff are excited to hit the ground running at the Senior Bowl,” Staley said in a press release. “This week will serve as a valuable experience for all of us to help lead our coaching staff alongside Coach Campbell as we get to know this talented group of young men. We are looking forward to a great week of football in Mobile.”

Working with Staley on the American team will be Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant as defensive coordinator and tight ends coach Ben Johnson as offensive coordinator.

Coaching the National team will be Jets tight ends coach Ron Middleton, with linebackers coach Mike Rutenberg as defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese as offensive coordinator.

The staff vacancies created by the promotions will be filled with coaches working through the Senior Bowl Minority Fellowship program. Virginia State head coach Reggie Barlow and Jackson State offensive coordinator T.C. Taylor will join the Lions staff, while Morgan State head coach Tyrone Wheatley and South Carolina State defensive coordinator Jonathan Saxon coach with the Jets staff.

The goal of the combined efforts is to get more coaches elevated opportunities throughout the week, while still providing an experienced NFL staff to work with the players and let the head coaches of the staffs participating focus on player evaluation like the rest of the league.

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