DENVER -- Broncos coach Mike Shanahan turned to an old friend to replace longtime assistant Gary Kubiak on his coaching staff.
Shanahan hired former New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger as assistant head coach and promoted offensive line
coach Rick Dennison to offensive coordinator on Monday.
The moves come after Kubiak was hired last week as coach of the Houston Texans, and Heimerdinger was freed from his contract with
"I'm excited to come back. I know everybody on staff and in the
administration," Heimerdinger said as he stepped off the plane in
He said his duties were still being formulated, "but I would assume I'll assist Mike in the passing game" with Dennison primarily directing the running game.
Kubiak was interested in taking Dennison, 47, with him to Houston to serve as his offensive coordinator, but Shanahan didn't
want to let him go.
And Shanahan was thrilled to get the chance to hire Heimerdinger
Heimerdinger and Shanahan were college roommates at Eastern Illinois and served together as assistants at the University of Florida in the early 1980s. Heimerdinger coached the Broncos' wide receivers in 1995-99 before going to Tennessee to be offensive coordinator from 2000-04.
He joined the Jets last year and interviewed for their head coaching job, which went to Eric Mangini, after Herman Edwards left to coach the Kansas City Chiefs.
Heimerdinger started his new job Monday but said he wasn't sure yet whether he'll join the Broncos' coaching staff at the Pro Bowl
next week in Hawaii. Denver's staff will coach the AFC because of
the Broncos' loss to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.
During his stint as the Broncos' receiving coach, Heimerdinger
helped undrafted free agent Rod Smith develop into a consistent
1,000-yard receiver and help Denver win back-to-back Super Bowls in
Dennison has been with the Broncos since Shanahan was hired as coach in 1995. The former Broncos linebacker (1982-90) appeared in
three Super Bowls as a player and served as the team's offensive
line coach for the last five seasons. During that time, the Broncos
rushed for an NFL-best 11,644 yards and surrendered the
fifth-fewest sacks (151), including a franchise-low 15 in 2004.