Bonamego named as special teams coach

Former Jacksonville Jaguars assistant John Bonamego has been named as the Green Bay Packers special teams coach today by head coach and general manager Mike Sherman. Bonamego replaces Frank Novak, who retired on Jan. 9.<p>

Bonamego interviewed with Sherman in Green Bay early last week. It is uncertain if Sherman interview anyone else for the job. Bonamego was hired four days after Sherman named Mark Duffner as linebackers coach to fill the vacancy left by Bo Pelini, who left to become defensive coordinator for the University of Nebraska.

"John has demonstrated the qualities you look for in a special teams coach: knowledge, passion and the ability to teach," Sherman said in a release. "He's a great fit for our staff and team."

Bonamego, 39, was assistant Jaguars' special teams coach from 1999 to 2001 and replaced the retired Frank Gansz last year. Bonamego helped mold punter Chris Hanson, a relatively unknown free agent, into a Pro Bowl selection. Hanson led the AFC in both gross average (44.2, second in NFL) and net average (37.6, fourth in NFL).

Jacksonville's kickoff coverage squad also led the AFC, and finished second in the league behind Carolina, allowing just 19.5 yards per return.

The Jags' punt-return team finished fifth in the AFC, averaging 11.1 yards per return.

Green Bay had the worst punt return unit in the NFL this year, averaging just 4.2 yards per return. The Packers were 26th overall in kickoff returns with a 20.4 yard return average. In 2001, the Packers finished 28th in the league in punt returns and 30th in kickoff returns.

Additionally, Bonamego's 2002 units blocked four kicks, recorded one touchdown and one safety. Jacksonville also was the only NFL team in 2002 not to allow both a return touchdown and a blocked kick.

A native of Waynesboro, Pa., Bonamego joined Jacksonville after six seasons at Army, where he assisted in coaching the outside linebackers (1993) and headed up special teams and recruiting (1994-98). Bonamego also had tutored running backs and assisted in special teams at Lehigh (1992).

Bonamego broke into college coaching in 1988 at Maine, where he spent four years, two as a graduate assistant (1988-89) and two as wide receivers/special teams coach (1990-91). He also spent one season coaching at Mt. Pleasant (Mich.) High School and one year as a player-coach in Europe, with the Verona (Italy) Redskins.

A former wide receiver and quarterback at Central Michigan, he earned a degree in health fitness from the school in 1987, then received his master's degree in physical education from Maine in 1992.


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