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Rex Ryan adds eight Jets coaches to his Bills staff, mostly on defense

A day after the new sheriff rolled into town, here comes his posse.

Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan on Thursday added eight new coaches to his staff.
All are carryovers from his New York Jets staff.

On defense, Dennis Thurman will be the new defensive coordinator, with Karl Dunbar coaching the defensive line, Jeff Weeks assisting on the defensive line, Bobby April III on linebackers and Tim McDonald on defensive backs.

Tony Sparano Jr. will handle tight ends. Eric Smith will help on special teams. Jason Oszvart has been added to the strength-and-conditioning staff Ryan retained from Doug Marrone's staff.

The Bills previously announced Greg Roman will be their offensive coordinator and special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman will be kept. The Buffalo News had reported assistant defensive line coach Jason Rebrovich from Clarence High will be shifted to outside linebackers.

Thurman became Ryan's defensive coordinator after Mike Pettine left the Jets to take the same role with the Bills in 2012. Pettine turned that one Bills season in the top job for the Cleveland Browns.

Thurman has been in the NFL for 16 years, previously serving as Ryan's defensive backs coach with the Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

"All through this process you're seeing coaches get opportunities to be a head coach," Ryan said at Wednesday's news conference. "Dennis Thurman will be at the top of the list in a very short time.

"It won't just be talking about my defense or whatever. This has been Dennis Thurman's defense, as well as mine, for years."

Dunbar is the most veteran of the other assistants. He's entering his 11th NFL season, the past three with the Jets and six before that with the Minnesota Vikings.

Sparano is the son of the former Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders head coach. April's father is the former Bills special-teams coach.

McDonald's addition might mean defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson's status could change. Ryan worked with Henderson on the Ravens' staff and spoke glowingly of him at Wednesday's news conference, indicating Henderson would return.

Henderson still is listed as a defensive backs coach on the Bills' official website, but so are other Marrone assistants who are believed to be on their way out.

All of Marrone's assistants still were under contract when he left and could have been retained if Ryan wanted them to stay and they wanted to work for Ryan.

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Ryan, for instance, didn't want to work together. The Bills interviewed Schwartz for the vacancy Ryan filled.

"Jim Schwartz did an outstanding job," Ryan said. "There's not question that he's an outstanding coach. He wants to be a head coach again, and I certainly understand that."

Defensive line coach Pepper Johnson also appears to be gone. Johnson recently interviewed for the New York Giants defensive-coordinator opening but was passed over.

Johnson told the New York Daily News that Ryan offered him a chance to stay with the Bills but was surprised to learn Thursday all the Bills' defensive position jobs appear to be filled.

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