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Return Of Brentson Buckner Highlights Coaching Hires For Cardinals

Brentson Buckner, who has returned to his former job as Cardinals' defensive line coach, works with the Cards' defensive line in 2017.
Brentson Buckner, who has returned to his former job as Cardinals' defensive line coach, works with the Cards' defensive line in 2017.

Brentson Buckner, the defensive line coach for the Cardinals for the entirety of Bruce Arians' tenure, is returning to the organization to take back that job.

Buckner was one of four new assistants whose hiring was announced by the team Wednesday, although Buckner tweeted about his return last week when he posted a picture of himself during a game with the Cardinals with the message "LETS RUN IT BACK!"

The Cardinals are also bringing informer tight end Jim Dray as an offensive quality control coach, Derius Swinton as assistant special teams coach and Mark Naylor as assistant strength and conditioning coach.

The Cards have also promoted Spencer Whipple to assistant wide receivers coach, Charlie Bullen to outside linebackers coach and Don Shumpert to offensive assistant.

Buckner, who played defensive line for 12 seasons in the NFL, was let go by the Raiders last month after one season there in a move that had nothing to do with Buckner. Despite Buckner helping improve Oakland's line (a jump from 13 sacks to 32, going from 30th to 8th in run defense), head coach Jon Gruden decided to replace him with Gruden's former defensive line coach in Tampa, Rod Marinelli, who had been fired by Dallas.

Buckner spent 2018 as Tampa's defensive line coach after his five years in Arizona. During his time with the Cardinals, Buckner worked with Calais Campbell, Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter and Josh Mauro, among others. He was also a front-facing motivator, his style captured near the end of the initial trailer for the Amazon series “All or Nothing” that featured the Cardinals' 2015 season.

The Cardinals potentially could have big changes on the defensive line. Peters will remain, and the Cards have 2019 third-round draft pick Zach Allen with whom they have high expectations.

Dray was a seventh-round pick of the Cardinals in 2010, spending four seasons in Arizona before leaving as a free agent. He also briefly returned for a week in 2017. He spent last season as an assistant coach on Freddie Kitchens' staff in Cleveland.

Swinton was a coaching intern for the Cardinals in training camp last season and has coached in the NFL 10 seasons, including a stint as the 49ers' special teams coordinator in 2016. Naylor comes from Eastern Kentucky, and previously had stints with the Baltimore Ravens and the University of Michigan.

Buckner replaces Chris Achuff, and the Cardinals also let go defensive assistant Chris Wilson, who had also been working with the defensive line. Achuff had been a holdover from the staff of Steve Wilks. Swinton replaces Randall McCray and Naylor replaces Vernon Stephens, both of whom also came in under Wilks.

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