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Browns hire inside linebackers coach Ken Flajole, four others to complete staff

By Nate Ulrich Published: February 7, 2013

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski has completed the hiring of his first staff, the team announced today.

The Browns rounded out the staff by hiring inside linebackers coach Ken Flajole, special assistant to the head coach Steve Gera and assistant strength and conditioning coaches Chris DiSanto and Derik Keyes. They also announced their previously reported hire of running backs coach John Settle.

“The additions of Ken and John, as well as Chris, Derik and Steve, round out what I believe is an extremely strong group of coaches with diverse backgrounds, covering many years of experience at both the NFL and collegiate levels,” Chudzinski said in a statement. “They are all outstanding teachers and leaders who will bring out the best in our players.”

Flajole spent last season as the secondary coach of the New Orleans Saints and was fired in January. Before joining the Saints, he served as the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.

Flajole, 58, also coached linebackers for the Carolina Panthers (2003-08), defensive backs and linebackers for the Seattle Seahawks (1999-2002) and entered the NFL in 1998 as a defensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers. He also has several stops in the college ranks on his resume, which features 36 years of coaching experience.

“Ken is a highly regarded coach with an extensive resume in the NFL,” Chudzinski said. “He has achieved success as a position coach and coordinator in the league. Like other members of our defensive staff, he has experience working in several different schemes, an attribute which will be valuable as we develop the Browns’ defense.”

Settle spent the past two seasons with the Panthers, but coach Ron Rivera fired him in January. In Charlotte, N.C., Settle worked with new Chudzinski, who served as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator during the past two seasons.

Settle’s only other NFL coaching experience was with the Browns in 1995 and then the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-97 after the late Art Modell moved the franchise. Before joining the Panthers in 2011, Settle coached running backs at the University of Wisconsin (2006-10), Fresno State (1998-2005) and his alma mater, Appalachian State (1994).

Settle, 47, played running back for the Atlanta Falcons (1987-90) and the Washington Redskins (1991-92). He made the Pro Bowl in 1988.

“I have been with John the last two years in Carolina, and know first-hand the type of coach that he is,” Chudzinski said. “His players have always been productive and respond well to his teaching methods.”

Gera spent the last six seasons (2007-12) as an offensive assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers. In San Diego, Gera helped Norv Turner, the ex-Chargers head coach and new Browns offensive coordinator, with scouting and film study.

DiSanto spent last season working as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of California. He held the same role with the Oakland Raiders for four seasons (2008-11).

Keyes spent last season holding the title of assistant strength and condition coach with the Houston Texans. Keyes also had similar roles with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and the University of South Alabama.

Here is information about the five new coaches that was provided by the Browns in a news release:

Flajole (pronounced FLAY-juhl) brings 36 years of coaching experience to Cleveland, including the 2012 season as the secondary coach of the New Orleans Saints. Prior to joining the Saints, Flajole spent three seasons (2009-11) as defensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams. Before joining the Rams, he spent six seasons (2003-08) as the Carolina Panthers’ linebackers coach. Prior to his stint with the Panthers, Flajole coached four seasons (1999-2002) with the Seattle Seahawks. He spent three of his four seasons (1999, 2001-02) coaching the defensive backs and 2000 as the club’s linebackers coach. He began his NFL coaching career in 1998 as a defensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers. Flajole entered the coaching ranks at his alma mater, Pacific Lutheran, in 1977. He then made collegiate coaching stops at Washington (1979), Montana (1980-85), Texas-El Paso (1986-88), Missouri (1989-93), Richmond (1994), Hawaii (1995) and Nevada (1996-97). A native of Seattle, Flajole was an All-Conference linebacker at Wenatchee Valley Community College (Wenatchee, Wash.) and Pacific Lutheran (Tacoma, Wash.). He and his wife, Teri, have two daughters, Kelly and Kori.

Settle spent the past two seasons (2011-12) in the same capacity with the Carolina Panthers. This is his second stint with the Browns, as he spent the 1995 season as an offensive assistant/special teams quality control coach. In Settle’s first season with the Panthers, the team made NFL history as they became the first club to feature three 700-yard rushers. DeAngelo Williams (836), Jonathan Stewart (761) and Cam Newton (706) each reached the mark as the team also set a club record for average per rush attempt (5.4). In total, team rushed for 2,408 yards on the year, the third-most in franchise history. Prior to his stint in Carolina, Settle spent five seasons (2006-10) in the same capacity at the University of Wisconsin. While leading the Badgers’ running backs, Settle spearheaded a unit that averaged more than 200 rushing yards per contest in each of his last four seasons. He also guided three players who posted a combined six 1,000-yard rushing campaigns (P.J. Hill – 3, John Clay – 2, James White – 1). Prior to joining Wisconsin, Settle spent eight seasons (1998-2005) at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs’ running backs unit. During his tenure at Fresno State, he coached six different running backs who recorded 1,000-yard seasons. Settle entered the coaching ranks at his alma mater, Appalachian State University, coaching the running backs in 1994, before spending three seasons in the NFL with the Browns (1995) and Baltimore Ravens (1996-97). Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Falcons following the 1987 NFL Draft, Settle played in 46 games with 29 starts in six NFL seasons (1987-92) as a running back with the Falcons (1987-90) and Washington Redskins (1991-92). A four-year letterman (1983-86) as a running back at Appalachian State University, Settle finished his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,409 yards and 43 touchdowns. A native of Reidsville, N.C., he attended Rockingham County High School. He and his wife, Karen, have three children, Jonathan, Leighton and Devynn.

Gera spent the last six years (2007-12) as an offensive assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers where he assisted the coaching staff with scouting and film breakdown. Prior to his time in San Diego, Gera served four years in the United States Marine Corps, including two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a decorated Captain in the Marines, Gera earned eight medals during his military career. Gera graduated from the University of Missouri in 2000 with a degree in English and an MBA from the sports business program at San Diego State University in 2007. A native of Kansas City, Mo., Gera is married (Stacey).

DiSanto spent the 2012 season in the same capacity at the University of California. Prior to his time with the Golden Bears, DiSanto served four seasons (2008-11) as assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Raiders. After graduating from West Chester (Pa.) University in 2000, DiSanto worked as a volunteer strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for two seasons (2000-01), while also serving in the same role with the Philadelphia Kixx (Major Indoor Soccer League), the Philadelphia Wings (National Lacrosse League) and at his alma mater. In 2005, DiSanto was the offensive line and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Pikesville. He spent 2007 as a strength and conditioning intern with the Minnesota Vikings. In 2003, DiSanto played four months with multiple teams in the Arena Football League and the Arena Football League 2 as an offensive and defensive lineman. During the 2006 season, DiSanto was with the Spokane Shock of the Arena Football League 2. A native of Holland, Pa., DiSanto is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Keyes coached the 2012 season in the same capacity with the Houston Texans. During his time with the Texans, he assisted in the supervision of weight training and focused on the speed and agility development of players on injured reserve. Prior to joining the Texans, Keyes was an assistant strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater, the University of Louisiana–Lafayette, for the 2011 season. He spent the 2010 season as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of South Alabama and 2009 as an assistant strength and conditioning intern at Louisiana–Lafayette. A four-year letterman (2005-08) as a safety at Louisiana–Lafayette, Keyes was named to the Sun Belt All-Conference second team as a senior. He earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations/business finance from Louisiana–Lafayette in 2008 and a master’s degree in exercise science from South Alabama in 2010. A native of Laurel, Miss., Keyes attended Lafayette (La.) High School. He is a certified USAW Level I Sports Performance coach.


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