THE CANADIAN PRESS
VANCOUVER -- Now that Mike Benevides has revamped his B.C. Lions coaching staff, more changes loom among the player ranks.
Benevides, the Lions' head coach, completed an off-season of unprecedented coaching changes under his watch as the CFL club announced the appointment of linebackers coach Johnny Holland on Wednesday.
Holland, an assistant with the Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders last season, was introduced as the Lions held a media availability with coaches.
In addition to Holland, Benevides has hired new offensive coordinator Khari Jones, brought in well-travelled former CFL head coach Joe Paopao as receivers coach and promoted Mark Washington to defensive coordinator from his former defensive secondary coaching role.
The moves come after Benevides made no changes to his staff last season and made only two new hires in his first season at the helm in 2011, replacing himself as defensive coordinator and only hiring a new defensive line coach a day after the former one agreed to return but received an unexpected offer from the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It is (radical),'' said Benevides of the latest changes.
"But that's by design, too. In any word of football, a lot of (the reason for change) is timing. A lot of it's situational stuff. But anywhere in the CFL or anywhere in football, any time when you have two (newly) appointed co-ordinators (at the same time), there's a lot of change there, too.''
Benevides, entering his third season at the BC helm after serving as an assistant, said he made the moves, which emphasize teaching and aggressive football, because the Lions need to get better. The Lions lost the 2013 Western Semi-Final to Saskatchewan after being upset by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2012 Western Final.
General manager Wally Buono, the club's former head coach who moved himself upstairs full-time in 2012, said he had no problems with so many coaching changes in one off-season.
"It's part of the transition and part of life,'' said Buono.
"The thing that you have to look at is what we did the last couple of years. Yeah, we did a lot of good things, but it wasn't good enough for us to win a championship. Status quo isn't always good either. New voices, new ideas, new people motivating the players, I think that's good.''
With the coaching staff completed, Benevides and Buono are turning their attention to replacing former starters. Slotback Nick Moore signed as a free agent with Winnipeg, nickelback Korey Banks was traded to the Blue Bombers and depth offensive lineman Steve Myddleton was lured away as a free agent by Hamilton.
Buono said one of the team's existing receivers will take Moore's spot while the club is looking outside for Banks' replacement, offensive line help and, possibly, a defensive lineman to replace veteran Keron Williams, a free agent who has not yet signed with a CFL club as he explores NFL options.
Buono said negotiations with Williams have ceased, at least for the time being, after the team made him an offer. The Lions are not willing to wait any more for him to decide his NFL future, but Buono did not rule out his possible return.
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