CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals this offseason are using the same fellowship program head coach Marvin Lewis has long attributed to helping him obtain his current position.
They announced Friday the additions of four coaching interns who will spend part of the summer working alongside Lewis and his assistant coaches. The four interns are part of this year's Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program.
"We are happy to have these guys with us," Lewis said in a news release. "This program helped me get ahead as a coach, and it's great to see it continue as strong as it is. It's a good experience for our full-time coaches as well as the interns."
Along with Lewis, defensive line coach Jay Hayes and offensive assistant Brian Braswell have been past interns in the program.
The issue of diversity in the coaching ranks has long been a hot-button issue in the NFL. There are currently only four African-American head coaches in the league. Joining Lewis, who also happens to be the second-most tenured active head coach, are Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, Detroit's Jim Caldwell and Tampa Bay's Lovie Smith. Earlier this offseason, one of Lewis' former assistants, Leslie Frazier was fired by the Vikings.
The fellowship program has been conducted annually since 1987 and is administered by the NFL Management Council and NFL Player Engagement. It's named for former 49ers head coach and Bengals assistant Bill Walsh. The program says its objectives are to use training camps and offseason workout programs to give talented minority coaches the chance to "observe, participate, gain experience and ultimately gain a full-time NFL coaching position."
This summer, the Bengals are welcoming the following four interns to the staff:
Theron Grinage Jr., a defensive line coach at Long Island University-Post. He'll work with the Bengals in July and part of August during training camp.
Brad Jackson, a former University of Cincinnati player who played four NFL seasons with Baltimore and Carolina. The Canton, Ohio, native will also spend July and part of August's training camp with the Bengals.
Andrew Jordan Jr., a former NFL tight end who has coached at Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana). He has been working with the Bengals during this month's minicamp and organized team activities.
Duane Starks, a former defensive back who played for the Ravens, Cardinals, Patriots and Raiders. He worked this month's minicamp and OTAs, and will return in July and part of August for training camp.