July 22, 2014

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Coach Rob Chudzinski adds five assistants, puts finishing touches on first Browns staff

Rob Chudzinski’s first project as Browns coach is complete. He filled out his staff Thursday, adding five assistant coaches.

Ken Flajole will coach inside linebackers, and John Settle running backs. Chris DiSanto and Derik Keyes were hired as assistant strength and conditioning coaches, and Steve Gera will be special assistant to the head coach.

“The additions 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.”

Settle is in his second stint with the Browns. He was offensive assistant/special teams quality control coach for Bill Belichick in 1995.

Settle started 29 of 46 games in six seasons as an NFL running back with the Falcons and Redskins. He was named to the Pro Bowl after the 1988 season, when he rushed for 1,024 yards to become the first undrafted player since the 1970 merger to eclipse 1,000 yards.

Settle spent the past two seasons as running backs coach in Carolina, where Chudzinski was offensive coordinator. The Panthers had three 700-yard rushers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton) in 2011 and ’12 after no team had ever accomplished the feat. Settle previously spent five years coaching running backs at the University of Wisconsin.

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

Flajole has been a coach for 36 years. He spent 2012 as New Orleans’ secondary coach after three years as St. Louis’ defensive coordinator. He coached Carolina’s linebackers from 2003-08.

“Like other members of our defensive staff, Ken has experience working in several different schemes, an attribute which will be valuable as we develop the Browns’ defense,” said Chudzinski, who wants coordinator Ray Horton to run a multiple-front scheme.

DiSanto worked at the University of California last season and was with the Raiders from 2008-11, where he assisted Brad Roll, Cleveland’s strength and conditioning coach.

Keyes was assistant strength coach with the Texans last season. He assisted in weight training and focused on the speed and agility of players on injured reserve.

Gera spent 2007-12 as an offensive assistant with the Chargers under coach Norv Turner, Cleveland’s new offensive coordinator. Gera served four years in the Marines, including two tours in Iraq.

Haslam speaks

Owner Jimmy Haslam spoke to 850 people at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce annual dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center on Thursday night. He didn’t talk much football, but touched on a few points pertaining to the Browns.

• Haslam promised better cell phone service next season at Cleveland Browns Stadium. It’s had terrible reception the last couple of years. He said there will be other stadium enhancements but he doesn’t know yet what they’ll be.

• He said Chudzinski and Horton switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme because it creates more pressure on the quarterback.

• Haslam said the NFL is concerned about injuries, but believes a balance can be struck between player safety and protecting “the game we love.”

Extra points

Inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s $3.6 million base salary for 2013 became fully guaranteed Thursday, SiriusXM Radio’s Adam Caplan reported.

• The Browns’ opponents in 2013 had a .492 winning percentage (126-130) in 2012. Cleveland’s strength of schedule ranks tied for 21st with Pittsburgh’s.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.