Arians hires 13 assistants to complete staff

TEMPE, Ariz.  — New Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has completed his staff with the announcement of the hiring of 13 assistants.

The group includes former Cardinal Stump Mitchell as running backs coach, Amos Jones as special teams coordinator and Darryl Drake as wide receivers coach. Mitchell was head coach at Southern University the past three seasons. Jones has spent the last six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was special teams coach there last year. Drake was wide receivers coach for the Chicago Bears for the past nine seasons.

Others and their responsibilities are: outside linebackers James Bettcher, defensive line Brentson Buckner, linebackers Mike Caldwell, tight ends Rick Christophel, offensive assistant Kevin Garver, assistant special teams-assistant tight ends Steve Heiden, pass rush specialist Tom Pratt, defensive backs Nick Rapone, cornerbacks Kevin Ross and assistant offensive line Larry Zierlein.

Freddie Kitchens and Ryan Slowik were retained from coach Ken Whisenhunt’s staff. Kitchens will switch from tight ends to quarterbacks coach. Slowik will switch from outside linebackers to assistant defensive backs coach. Arians earlier announced the hiring of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and assistant head coach-offense Tom Moore.

Strength and conditioning coordinator John Lott and his assistant Pete Alosi will remain in their current roles.

Buckner, Caldwell and Ross boast extensive NFL playing experience.

Buckner has coached at the high school level in North Carolina since his 12-year playing career ended in 2005. He played professionally for Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Francisco and Carolina.

Caldwell had an 11-year playing career with Cleveland, Baltimore, Arizona (1997), Philadelphia, Chicago and Carolina. He has been on the coaching staff with the Eagles since 2008.

Ross has seven years of NFL coaching experience after a 14-year playing career. His most recent coaching job with as safeties coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2010-11.

Christophel, Pratt, Rapone and Zierlein all have more than 30 years of coaching experience.

Christophel has coached at the college level for 32 years, including the last six as head coach at his alma mater, Austin Peay.

Pratt has 34 years of experience, and his NFL career dates back to Hank Stram’s staff for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he coached Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan and Curly Culp. He’s served three different stints on the Chiefs’ staff and also coached with the Saints, Browns and Buccaneers.

Rapone has 30 years of college coaching experience, including the last seven as defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of Delaware.
Zierlein has 41 years of coaching experience, beginning at Fort Hays State College in 1970. He was offensive line coach for the Steelers in 2007-09, working under Arians, after previous NFL stops at Buffalo and Cleveland.