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O'HARA: Staley's role as assistant HC is more than just a title

Duce Staley is an ace on Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell's staff.

Staley's title of "assistant head coach" is not some ceremonial tag that was added to his duties as running backs coach as an incentive to join the Lions when Campbell was filling out his staff.

It is just what the title implies: Assistant head coach with duties that take some of the burden off Campbell.

Campbell spelled out what he had in mind when he heard that Staley might be leaving the Eagles after 10 seasons as an assistant coach -- the last three as assistant head coach.

Before that, Staley played running back for 10 seasons -- the first seven with the Eagles (1997-03) and the last three with the Steelers.

"I said, 'Look, you're not going to be a token assistant head coach,'" Campbell said Tuesday morning in a Zoom interview with the Detroit media.

"I'm going to use him. I plan on using him for some media obligations. We had him in our player evaluations -- the whole offense and defense."

Under Campbell's plan, Staley will be exposed to some degree to the issues that confront a head coach.

"I'm going to keep him abreast of the cap, things of that nature -- what we're trying to do," Campbell said.

"What we're trying to do with free agent guys I know, even if they're on defense. I want him to have a hand in it. I already told him, I want him to look over the fine schedule -- us sit down together."

Campbell is doing for Staley what Saints head coach Sean Payton did for him when Campbell was hired as an assistant coach of the Saints in 2016.

Campbell had the title of assistant head coach, in addition to coaching tight ends for five seasons in New Orleans. Payton told him at the time that he would prepare him to be a head coach, if that was the career path Campbell wanted to follow.

Campbell had glowing recommendations when the Lions interviewed him for the vacant head coach position.

"I'm going to use this guy," Campbell said. "He's going to be primed and ready to be a head coach when it's all said and done.

"All of his bases will be covered. He's going to be able to check off every box -- 'I've been there. I've done that. I know I've been training for this.'

"Just like Sean did for me. He's going to be a true assistant head coach. If something goes down and he needs to step into my seat, he's ready to roll."

Staley has been a respected figure in the NFL for two decades, both as a player and coach.

"I've got a lot of respect for Duce," Campbell said. "He's a hell of a man. I think he's a hell of a coach. I really do. I think he's going to be a head coach in this league sooner rather than later.

"Now, hopefully later than sooner, but I know it's going to happen."

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