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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a significant addition to their offensive coaching staff Thursday and could make another one as early as Friday.

The Bucs officially announced Thursday that they have hired former Oakland Raiders offensive line coach Aaron Kromer to serve as the team’s senior offensive assistant. However, the addition of Kromer doesn’t change offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Muir’s status with the team.

“We’re very excited to add him to our staff,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Kromer. “I just want to make one thing perfectly clear that Bill Muir is the offensive line coach. Aaron is a great teacher with a unique background. I’m looking forward to our players working with him.

“Bill is the offensive coordinator and he’s the offensive line coach, and we think he’s pretty darn good.”

The 37-year old Kromer was hired by Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen in 2001 and spent his first season on the Raiders staff as Bill Callahan’s offensive line assistant.

Kromer coached with the Raiders from 2001-2004, and replaced Callahan as the offensive line coach when Callahan became Oakland’s head coach in 2002.

As a senior assistant, Kromer’s job responsibilities will vary, according to Gruden.

“He’ll have some very broad areas of responsibility,” said Gruden. “He’ll work with the offense, he’s going to work with me specifically. He’s role will be defined as we move forward. He’ll help Bill Muir, (tight ends coach and special teams assistant coach) Ron Middleton and us as a offensive football team.”

Before joining the Raiders coaching staff, Kromer coached the offensive line at Northwestern from 1999-2000 after serving as an assistant at his alma mater, Miami of Ohio, for seven years. Kromer coached the Redhawks offensive line in 1998 and tight ends and H-backs, defensive line and special teams during his tenure at the school.

The Bucs are scheduled to interview former New York Jets offensive coordinator Paul Hackett Thursday for their vacant quarterbacks coach spot.

That position was occupied by John Shoop last season, but Gruden said Thursday that Shoop, who is not under contract for the 2005 season, is currently looking at other job possibilities around the league.

“He’s exploring his options and we too are exploring ours,” Gruden said of Shoop.

Hackett, who previously served as the head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Southern California, was the New York Jets offensive coordinator from 2001-2004 before resigning at the end of this season.

The Jets offense finished the 2004 season ranked 17th in the NFL in scoring and scored only four offensive touchdowns in the last four games. Under Hackett, the highest the Jets offense finished a season ranked was 15th in scoring, which occurred in 2002.

Gruden, who in 1991 served as the wide receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh under Hackett, wasted little time in pursuing Hackett after the offensive-minded coach resigned from his post with the Jets on Wednesday.

“He’s interviewing for the quarterback coach,” Gruden said of Hackett. “His experience is unparralel in my opinion in dealing with quarterbacks, dealing with guys like Carson Palmer to the great cast of guys like Joe Montana in San Francisco. He certainly had a lot to do with Chad Pennington’s uprise in this league.

“I consider him to be a tremendous coach. I don’t want to speculate any further, but we’ll interview him and do what we feel is best for our football team.”

Although he has no pro playing experience, Hackett, who has spent most of his coaching days in the West Coast system, has plenty of coaching experience, including jobs with the Cleveland Browns (1981-81), the San Francisco 49ers (1983-85), the Dallas Cowboys (1986-88), the Kansas City Chiefs (1993-97) and the New York Jets (2001-04).

He hasn’t signed a contract with Tampa Bay yet, but Hackett is the only coach that’s scheduled to interview for the vacant quarterback coach position. While a deal could be completed as early as Friday, Gruden pointed out the fact that other teams are interested in talking with Hackett as well.

“We’re going to meet tonight, but we’re not the only team that’s interested in him,” said Gruden. “We’ll see what happens.”

In other coaching-related news, Bucs defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin, who is not under contract, spent Thursday in Miami interviewing for the Dolphins’ defensive coordinator post.

Two Bucs assistant coaches — defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and Muir — will not make the trip to Senior Bowl for health-related reasons.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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