The Lions have added the third down defensive package to the responsibilities of secondary coach Tim Walton.
For Walton, it's a promotion and a step closer to his goal of becoming an NFL head coach.
"My next step would hopefully to become a full-time coordinator," Walton told Detroitlions.com. "That's my next step and my goal in the next couple years. Eventually, if I could do well in that for awhile, head coach would be the next step.
"But I'm just going to take it one day at a time and I just want to do well next year and do a good job for Coach and do a good job with the defensive backs and third down and that's my main focus. Hopefully, that will open doors down the road."
Walton was a candidate to be the Rams' assistant defensive coordinator for the passing game earlier this offseason, before opting to re-sign with the Lions. He's obviously earning a reputation around the league and the Lions clearly see his potential to increase his workload.
"I appreciate Coach (Schwartz)," Walton said. "Coach does a lot in that area and to sit with him and continue to learn and grow ... third down is a big down in this league. If you can win third down you have a chance of being fairly successful in the league."
Walton enters his fourth season with the Lions after joining Schwartz's staff in 2009 as the team's secondary coach.
Each year under Walton, the Lions secondary has increased its interception totals. Their 2011 total of 16 nearly doubled the tally of interceptions by the unit from the previous two years combined.
Walton said he's excited for the opportunity to have a larger role in game day planning and is eager to see the product on he field in 2012.
"We've got the continuity and kept the staff together and hopefully a lot of the players are back and we can have that chemistry and continuity," he said.
"Keeping guys around is big for winning because you don't have to go through much change and the teaching and the progression can grow at a faster level because guys have been in the system for awhile.
"Players are familiar with the coaches and you're familiar with the players and there's a carryover going into the next year with the system and that makes it easier to proceed and get direction."
Walton will have his hands full to match the success the Lions saw on third down last season, though. The defense ranked third in the NFL, allowing a conversion percentage of 32.7 (67-of-205).
The secondary also limited opponents to a passer rating of 69.2 on third down, which was the fourth-lowest rating on third down in the NFL.