The Cincinnati Bengals have announced three new additions to their summer coaching staff as part of the 2016 Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program.
This year, the Bengals will welcome former NFL safety Chris Crocker, Gardner-Webb University assistant head coach Kenny Ray and Norfolk State co-defensive coordinator Cornell Brown.
The Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship helps to springboard opportunities for NFL coaching careers like it did with two current Bengals coaches -- head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive line coach Jacob Burney -- both of whom were interns in the Walsh Fellowship program.
"This program helped me get ahead as a coach and it's great to see it continue as strong as it is," Lewis said. "Doing this each year is a good experience for our full-time coaches as well as for the interns."
Most Bengals fans will remember Crocker, who spent 12 NFL seasons as a safety with the Browns, Falcons, Dolphins, and Bengals. The latter of which came from 2008-2013 as Crocker was a key contributor for Mike Zimmer's defense in Cincinnati, which helped power the Bengals to four playoff berths over that span.
In Cincinnati, Crocker appeared in 71 games with 56 starts while recording eight interceptions and 34 passes defended. He is working during OTAs, next week's minicamp and will return in July for a portion of training camp.
Brown spent seven NFL seasons as a linebacker for the Ravens. He earned a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore in Super Bowl XXXV; at the time, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was his defensive coordinator. Brown was formerly an assistant defensive line coach at Virginia Tech and is working with the Bengals during minicamp and OTAs.
Ray, currently an assistant head coach/offensive line at Gardner-Webb in North Carolina, played center in college at Southern Mississippi, where he was a teammate of NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Prior to his role at Gardner-Webb, Ray had coaching experience at Tennessee State, Samford, Howard, Alabama State and North Carolina A&T. Ray will work with the Bengals in training camp.
The Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program was established in 1987 to provide NFL training camp positions to minority coaches each year. The program exposes talented minority college coaches to the methods and philosophies of summer training camps.
Walsh, who was the head coach of the 49ers after being the Bengals' offensive coordinator, introduced the idea to the NFL in 1987 when he brought a group of minority coaches to 49ers training camp. Since then, the program has taken off and helped notable names like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and former NFL head coach Lovie Smith rise up the coaching hierarchy.
This fellowship, which included Bengals great T.J. Houshmandzadeh last year, has tutored more than 1,800 minority coaches through the years and has grown to the point that now every NFL team participates during either OTAs and/or training camp.