The Green Bay Packers will not bring back assistant special teams coach Chad Morton next season, two sources told Press-Gazette Media.
Morton, who played seven years in the NFL with four teams primarily as a returner, served in his coaching role with the Packers since February 2010.
The Packers’ special teams units slipped from 12th in 2012 to 20th in 2013 in the Dallas Morning News’ annual rankings, which take into account 22 statistical categories.
The Packers ranked 32nd in the NFL in opponents’ average starting position following kickoffs (25.6-yard line) and were 30th in kickoff return average (20.3). On coverage units, the Packers ranked 29th on kickoffs and punts.
Morton’s departure leaves the Packers with three vacant assistant coaching positions.
Kevin Greene resigned Jan. 17 as outside linebackers coach after five seasons. Greene said in a team release that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo was named offensive coordinator of the New York Giants on Jan. 14. Although it hasn’t been officially announced, the Packers shifted running backs coach Alex Van Pelt to quarterbacks coach and are seeking to fill his position.
The Packers likely will hire new coaches prior to the NFL combine, which starts Feb. 19.
Part of the Packers’ special teams struggles this season stemmed from injuries and lack of continuity — they used 58 players in 16 games.
Among the special teams bright spots, kicker Mason Crosby posted his best season (89.7 percent field goal accuracy), punter Tim Masthay broke his franchise record for net punting average (39.0) and the Packers ranked seventh in punt returns primarily using rookie Micah Hyde.
Morton, 36, joined the Packers in 2009 as the team’s coaching administrator and was promoted the next season to special teams assistant.
Morton has worked under Shawn Slocum, the Packers’ special teams coordinator since 2009.
The Packers ranked 31st in 2009 and 29th in 2010 in the Dallas Morning News special teams rankings, but jumped to 13th in 2011 and 12th in 2012.
Slocum and Morton first worked together in the late 1990s at USC — Slocum as an assistant coach and Morton as a player.
After the 2012 season, when the Packers produced their best special teams ranking since 2007, Morton told Press-Gazette Media that he and Slocum worked well together.
“Our relationship is continuing to grow, and I think it’ll benefit the players,” Morton said.
Morton was drafted in the fifth round by New Orleans in 2000 as a running back and returner when Packers coach Mike McCarthy served as the Saints’ offensive coordinator.
The Packers’ coaching turnover this year is the most under McCarthy since the end of the 2008 season, when all the defensive staff members except inside linebackers coach Winston Moss were replaced, and Slocum took over for Mike Stock directing special teams.
Packers strength and conditioning assistant Zac Woodfin, who was hired in February 2011, left to become head strength coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, his alma mater.
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