The Detroit Lions have decided to fill their vacancy at running backs coach with someone already on the staff. Tight ends coach Tim Lappano will coach running backs next season, according to Dave Birkett. Lappano had been the tight ends coach since 2009, but with his responsibilities being changed, he is set to take over for Sam Gash as the running backs coach.
Birkett also reports that Bobby Johnson will in fact coach tight ends for the Lions. It was originally unclear why the Lions were hiring the Jacksonville Jaguars' tight ends coach given that Lappano was still on the staff, but his shift to running backs coach explains it. Lappano will remain on the staff with different responsibilities, and Johnson will join the staff to coach the tight ends.
Lappano has been a running backs coach before both in the NFL and at the college level. In the NFL, Lappano served as the running backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers from 2003-04 and the Seattle Seahawks in 1998. At the college level, he was the running backs coach with California from 1992-1995, Washington State from 1987-88, Wyoming in 1986 and Idaho from 1982-85.
This pair of moves leaves only two vacancies on the coaching staff for the Lions. They need to hire a new offensive line coach to replace George Yarno and a new wide receivers coach to replace Shawn Jefferson.
UPDATE: It turns out Lappano has shifted to wide receivers coach instead of running backs coach. He has only coached wide receivers twice before (at Purdue in 1997 and Wyoming in 1996).