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Report: Detroit Lions hiring new defensive assistant who played under Matt Patricia

The Lions are bulking up their defensive staff.

Super Bowl XLVIII - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

The Detroit Lions have made another addition to their coaching staff, and this may be the most intriguing one of all. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Lions are hiring former NFL cornerback Tony Carter as a defensive assistant.

This hire is interesting for a few reasons. Most notably, however, is the fact that Carter does not have much of a coaching history yet. Carter’s playing career ended in 2016, and from there he was interning in various roles:

The former Seminole standout spent the next couple of years interning with a number of college and NFL coaches, including Kirby Smart at Georgia, Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee and Dan Mullen at Mississippi State. He also got to learn from Jon Gruden’s staff with the Oakland Raiders as part of the NFL’s Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship program.

Last year was Carter’s big break, becoming the cornerbacks coach for FCS school Jacksonville University. Unfortunately for Carter, Jacksonville shut down their football program after the 2019 season in which they finished 3-9.

The other significant note is that Carter briefly played under Lions head coach Matt Patricia during a one-year stint with the New England Patriots in which Carter spent most of the season on the practice squad.

Carter’s most significant playing accomplishments came with the Denver Broncos. In 2012, Carter notched 12 passes defended, two interceptions and a touchdown in 15 games played as the team’s nickel corner.

While it’s unclear exactly what Carter’s role is in Detroit, the Lions are still seeking a defensive backs coach after letting go of Brian Stewart following the 2019 season. With the team hiring former DBs coach Cory Undlin as the new defensive coordinator, it’s clear Detroit is focusing on getting a better staff to coach up their young secondary.

It will be interesting to see if Carter’s hiring changes Steve Gregory’s role with the team. Gregory is currently listed as a defensive assistant as well, but he has a playing background in the secondary. Seeing as how Gregory played a prominent role in coaching the Senior Bowl, it’s quite possible that he gets promoted to defensive backs coach.

Here’s a recap of all the changes made to the coaching staff and the vacancies that still remain: