Steelers hire running backs coach

January 28, 2014

Maybe the Steelers can get the Minnesota Vikings to throw in Adrian Peterson as a player to be named later.

Just two days after running backs coach Kirby Wilson left the Steelers for the same position with the Vikings, Pittsburgh hired the man he was replacing.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hired longtime NFL assistant James Saxon Tuesday, making him Pittsburgh’s third running backs coach since 1972.

Wilson had been with the Steelers since 2007, replacing longtime assistant Dick Hoak, who retired at the end of the 2006 season.

Saxon, who played eight NFL seasons with Kansas City, Miami and Philadelphia, spent the previous three seasons with the Vikings before he was let go along with the rest of head coach Leslie Frazier’s staff when Frazier was fired earlier this month.

Saxon also has coached running backs for Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo.

In Minnesota, Saxon coached Peterson to a 2,000-yard season in 2012, less than a year after the All-Pro running back had suffered a season-ending torn ACL.

Saxon inherits a backfield that features starter Le’Veon Bell, who set the Steelers’ rookie record with 1,259 yards from scrimmage despite missing the firt three games with a sprained foot. The remainder of Pittsburgh’s primary ballcarriers, Jonathan Dwyer, Felix Jones and LaRod Stephens-Howling, will become unrestricted free agents in March.

Saxon is the second new position coach hired by Tomlin this offseason.

Former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak was hired last week to replace offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr., who was fired.

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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