Bonamego goes to Saints

Ex-Packers assistant will lead New Orleans special teams; Sherman interviews with Texans

The Saints Friday hired former Green Bay Packers special teams coach John Bonamego to fill the same role in New Orleans. New Saints coach Sean Payton also hired former Rams interim coach Joe Vitt as linebackers coach and Doug Marrone as offensive coordinator.

Bonamego enters his eighth year in the NFL after a three-year stint with the Packers as special teams coordinator. Last year, Green Bay's special teams were ranked near the bottom of the league in kickoff return average and punting average. Green Bay was 12th overall in punt return average, but its kicking game struggled as well.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy released Bonamego, along with a handful of other coaches, on Jan. 13.

Vitt, who coached Green Bay's defensive backs in 1999, also will carry the title assistant head coach with the Saints. He took over in St. Louis six games into last season when Mike Martz was sidelined for health reasons and ultimately led the Rams to a 6-10 mark.

Before his promotion, Vitt was the Rams' assistant head coach-linebackers. From 2000-2004, he served as Chiefs linebackers coach.

Vitt also coached linebackers for the Philadelphia Eagles and spent 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.

"I worked with Joe at the Eagles and the one thing you can say is that his players always excel," Payton said.

Marrone, a former offensive lineman who played the 1989 season with the Saints, spent the last four seasons with the New York Jets as offensive line coach. Marrone spent the 2001 season at the University of Tennessee, where he worked with the tight ends and offensive tackles.

Duffner to Jags? Beightol to Lions?
Former Packers assistants Mark Duffner and Larry Beightol appear to be close to landing on their feet with other NFL teams, according to reports.

NFL sources said Duffner, who coached Green Bay's linebackers last year, had agreed to coach linebackers for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A source with the Lions said Beightol was "99.9%" assured of becoming offensive line coach under new coach Ron Marinelli. Beightol had interviewed for the same job with the St. Louis Rams and had conversations with the Houston Texans.

Meanwhile, a source said former Packers coach Mike Sherman will interview with new Texans coach Gary Kubiak. Sherman was offensive line coach at Texas A&M in 1992-'93 when Kubiak was beginning his coaching career as the Aggies' running backs coach.

The Texans gave up a league-leading 68 sacks in 2005, 14 more than the runner-up team.

Sherman had interviews for the head-coaching positions with the Saints and Buffalo Bills. He finished second in Buffalo to Dick Jauron and lost out in New Orleans to Sean Payton.

If Sherman takes another job, the Packers would save money. As it stands now, they owe him $3.2 million in 2006 and '07. If, for example, he accepts a job that pays $600,000 in '06, the Packers still would be responsible for the remaining $2.6 million.

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