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By RICH CAMPBELL
BY RICH CAMPBELL
Kirk Olivadotti, the Washington Redskins' longest-tenured coach, will be retained by new head coach Mike Shanahan, the team announced yesterday.
He will assume the title of defensive assistant after serving as the team's linebackers coach for the past three seasons. The Redskins officially announced the hiring of new linebackers coach Lou Spanos yesterday, but Shanahan kept room for Olivadotti on his staff.
"K.O. has great versatility and will be a tremendous help to our entire defensive staff, just as he has for the past 10 years here," Shanahan said in a statement released by the team. "He has made a quick impression on me and I am happy to be able to keep him with our team."
Olivadotti is the first member of former coach Jim Zorn's staff to officially be retained. Offensive coordinator Sherman Smith was let go, and defensive coordinator Greg Blache and offensive line coach Joe Bugel have retired. Several other assistants are still waiting to learn their fate.
Olivadotti is well respected by players and has developed a reputation as a smart, up-and-coming coach.
Rookie Brian Orakpo heavily credited him this season with easing his transition from a full-time defensive end in college to a linebacker/end hybrid. Olivadotti's guidance was recognized by the league when Orakpo earned a Pro Bowl nomination.
He has been with the Redskins since Norv Turner was the head coach. He joined the team in 2000 and worked his way up from a defensive quality control position, surviving four head coaching changes along the way.
Spanos assumes Olivadotti's title as linebackers coach. He spent the last 15 seasons as a defensive assistant with the Steelers and worked closely with their linebackers. He coached 19 different linebackers who combined for 19 Pro Bowl appearances, including James Harrison, James Farrior, Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd.
Spanos has two Super Bowl rings from his tenure there. He also worked with new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s.
The Steelers have run a 3-4 defense for many years now, and he'll help Haslett install some 3-4 schemes.
HELP FOR HAITI
The Redskins and Diageo, one of their corporate partners, are combining resources to help send disaster relief to Haiti earthquake victims. Owner Daniel Snyder's personal plane is scheduled to depart for Haiti this morning carrying relief personnel and supplies, along with clothing donated by the team. The relief operations are being coordinated in conjunction with The Bridge Foundation.
Rich Campbell: 540/735-1974