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Buccaneers lose assistant-DL coach Mike Phair to Illinois

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are losing their assistant defensive line coach to Illinois. Mike Phair will become the Illini's co-defensive coordaintor, according to Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated and as first reported by Bob Asmussen of the News-Gazette. The Bucs still have an actual defensive line coach in Joe Cullen, but they may want to look for another assistant to help him out.

The Bucs' defensive line is coming off a disappointing year, with highly-priced free agent Michael Johnson racking up just four sacks in an injury-marred season. But there were a few bright spots: Gerald McCoy was his usual dominant self, Clinton McDonald turned out to be a good addition to the line and newcomer Jacquies Smith was a surprisingly effective edge rusher.

Phair was previously an assistant for the Chicago Bears, which included spending two years with Lovie Smith, but apparently he wanted more out of his career than being one of the lowest-ranked assistants on an NFL team. Can't blame him for that.