Tampa Bay filled one of its coaching vacancies Thursday, naming Larry Coyer the new defensive line and assistant head coach.

Coyer, a veteran of 42 years coaching in the NFL and college ranks, replaces Jethro Franklin, who was fired last week after only one year on the job.

Coyer spent the last seven years with the Denver Broncos, including the last four seasons as the team's defensive coordinator. Denver began the 2006 campaign by not allowing a touchdown on defense through the first 11 quarters of play, which is the longest streak in the NFL since 1942.

Under Coyer’s guidance, Denver’s defense ranked in the top 10 in 2003 and 2004.

In Tampa Bay, Coyer will be charged with the task of helping the Buccaneers defensive line generate a more potent pass rush and play more consistently against the run.

Before he became Denver’s defensive coordinator in ’03, Coyer spent three seasons (2000-02) as the Broncos’ linebackers coach. The last time he coached a team’s defensive line was in 1994 with the New York Jets.

Coyer also served as a defensive coordinator in the college ranksfor Iowa State (1995-96) and Pittsburgh (1997-99).

With the hiring of Coyer, Tampa Bay’s defensive coaching staff is complete. Raheem Morris was recently hired to replace Greg Burns as the defensive backs coach, and Casey “Gus” Bradley was recently promoted from defensive quality control coach to linebackers coach to replace Joe Barry.

The Buccaneers have not yet announced the hiring of a tight ends coach to replace Ron Middleton, who was allowed out of his contract to take a job in Alabama, where his ill wife is scheduled to receive treatment for a serious medical condition.

Tampa Bay is expected to hire Middleton’s replacement before the team’s coaching staff heads to Mobile, Ala. on Sunday for the Senior Bowl.

Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2007 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.

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