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Keith Millard, Grady Stretz to coach defensive line for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA — The Bucs put the finishing touches on their revamped coaching staff Tuesday, hiring two co-defensive line coaches headlined by a former NFL All-Pro.

Former Vikings star Keith Millard, who still owns an NFL record, and Grady Stretz, who was Arizona State's defensive line coach, will join forces. They replace Todd Wash, who left for the Seahawks. Each will have a specialty, with Millard working on the pass rush and Stretz focusing on the running game.

The two will be charged with guiding a young, unproven group that could be joined by a touted defensive end should the Bucs select one with an early draft choice. Tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price are coming off their rookie seasons and Roy Miller has just two seasons of experience. The current defensive ends are mostly young.

That was a consideration in the job search, general manager Mark Dominik said recently — the team sought someone who would not just run its existing system, but also teach.

In 2010 the Bucs were 28th in run defense, allowing 131.7 yards per game, and tied with Jacksonville for 30th with 26 sacks.

Millard has 13 years of coaching experience, most recently was with the Raiders, for whom he was the pass rush specialist from 2005-08.

Ex-Buc Warren Sapp, who played under Millard with Oakland, strongly encouraged the Bucs to hire the former Vikings Pro Bowl defensive tackle.

"They put me on the phone with Dominik and I told him to hire this man," Sapp said. "You'll never have a problem with him. He's not looking to become a head coach. He's nothing but a workaholic. You think he doesn't know the Cover 2 (defense) or the three technique? He is the original. It's always been him, John Randle and me. I was with the man. I know a hard worker. I worked for (Rod) Marinelli.

"I told (head coach) Raheem (Morris) I don't know what you're thinking, but if you've got a defensive line position open and want somebody to work with a young guy like Gerald McCoy, Millard is the guy. I've done everything I can, but I don't have the time to really teach the kid. This man I played under and he gave me 10 sacks with the Raiders as a 32-year-old. This is the man you got to hire."

In a nine-year playing career, Millard went to two Pro Bowls, was a three-time All-Pro and was the 1989 defensive player of the year. That year he set the NFL mark for sacks by a defensive tackle in a season, 18.

Stretz's ASU team was first in the Pac-10 in rushing defense in 2010. The Sun Devils ranked eighth in the nation in tackles for loss, with 7.4 per game.

The Bucs also hired a quality control coach, Tyrone Pettaway, who spent the past two seasons in college at Tennessee and USC.

Around the league

TITANS AX THREE: New Titans coach Mike Munchak fired offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and two other assistants. Heimerdinger is continuing cancer treatment after diagnosed in November. Defensive assistant Rayna Stewart and offensive assistant Richie Wessman were also not retained.

VIKINGS CASE: The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled there is no reason to grant Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams permanent relief from their NFL suspensions for violating the league's anti-doping policy. The Williamses, who are not related, tested positive for bumetanide, a banned diuretic which can mask the presence of steroids, in 2008. They were not accused of taking steroids.

MORE OPTIONS FOR FANS: The NFL added a second option for the roughly 400 fans whose seats were not ready at the Super Bowl: They can attend any future Super Bowl instead of being limited to the 2012 game. The league initially said it would give $2,400, three times face value, to the unseated fans. Now those fans can choose a ticket to any Super Bowl, including next year's, along with round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations. If fans choose that option, they will not get the $2,400, but they can wait until after the conference championship games each season to pick the game.

EAGLES: The team added two coaches and promoted four others. Johnnie Lynn (cornerbacks) and Bobby April Jr. (defensive quality control) were hired. Those promoted were David Culley (senior offensive assistant/wide receivers), James Urban (assistant offensive coordinator) Doug Pederson (quarterbacks) and Duce Staley (special teams quality control).

RAIDERS: Greg Biekert was promoted from defensive assistant to linebackers coach.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

Keith Millard, Grady Stretz to coach defensive line for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 02/08/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 1:20am]
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