Assistant coach up for promotion

As defensive coordinator Jim Bates establishes his staff in Green Bay, he probably will give strong consideration to Lionel Washington as defensive backs coach. Washington has spent the past six seasons as the Packers' assistant defensive backs coach and appears to be the front-runner for the vacant position.<p>

In addition to his experience as an assistant coach, Washington has 15 years of National Football League playing experience at defensive back. He assisted Kurt Schottenheimer last year, but Schottenheimer was recently fired by Coach Mike Sherman. If Bob Slowik accepts the defensive backs position with the Denver Broncos, as expected, Washington, 44, may finally get an opportunity to lead the secondary in Green Bay.

Washington came to Green Bay in 1999 under Ray Rhodes. He was retained by Sherman in the same capacity in 2000. Washington is mainly responsible for the development of cornerback Mike McKenzie, who was traded to the New Orleans Saints in October. One of the reasons that McKenzie was unhappy in Green Bay is because Sherman did not promote Washington to defensive backs coach last year when Slowik was named defensive coordinator. Slowik was defensive backs coach for the Packers from 2000-03.

Other than his experience with the Packers, Washington does not have any previous coaching experience. He finished with 37 interceptions in 205 career NFL games (165 starts) with the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.

Coaching carousel in high gear

Former Miami Dolphins linebackers coach Bob Sanders appears to be headed to Green Bay to assist Bates. Also, other league sources said the Packers planned to hire Robert Nunn as defensive line coach to replace the departed Jethro Franklin, who left to coach the same position at the University of Southern California.

Nunn, 39, served as assistant defensive line coach and defensive quality control coach under Bates in Miami from 2000-02. He left in 2003 to become defensive line coach in Washington under Steve Spurrier, but lost his job when Spurrier and his staff was fired.

Nunn returned to Miami last year and worked as a volunteer assistant under Bates. Tracy Rocker, the defensive line coach at Arkansas the past two seasons, also has been mentioned as a candidate to coach Green Bay's defensive line, but Nunn likely has the inside track.

Sanders, 51, coached the Dolphins linebackers for the last four seasons. However, Mark Duffner is under contract to coach the linebackers for the Packers and is expected to return next season.


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