Falcons' Dan Quinn defends DJ Durkin joining training camp staff

Falcons' Dan Quinn defends DJ Durkin joining training camp staff

DJ Durkin has joined the Falcons staff as a guest assistant for training camp, which has coach Dan Quinn on the defensive for the decision.

Durkin was placed on leave and eventually fired by Maryland last year after Terps player Jordan McNair died from complications of becoming overheated during a summer workout.

When asked why he would add Durkin to the staff, Quinn said he knows Durkin personally and that he has good character.

“I hope people would understand, and people know me well enough, that nothing is more important than team,” Quinn told reporters Monday. “The fact that I know this coach firsthand, I know what his character is, and then the due diligence that goes with that, I would certainly hope that anyone covering the team or the fan base knows that I always have the team’s best interest in mind and would never put anybody in a space that would be otherwise.

“That said, it’s not that unusual for me to have people come to be a part of our program and add value to it for a smaller period of time. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again in the future.”

When asked about McNair’s death, Quinn called it an “unfortunate situation” and added that he and the Falcons called Maryland and did their own follow-ups before adding Durkin to the staff.

“I know DJ firsthand, about what he is as a coach,” Quinn said. “I’ve coached with him. And I know what his character is. We did all of our due diligence of calling everybody at Maryland and had our own follow-up to there. So what I would know is in the past, we’ve had (former Packers GM) Ron Wolf come to help me with another set of eyes. Last year, (longtime NFL offensive coordinator) Darrell Bevell coming into the same role.

“I think it’s huge advantage that you can have somebody of respect and can look at some certain things to help your team in the evaluation.”

Durkin joins Lance Schulters, Jamel Mutunga and Tracy Zimmer as guest coaches during training camp.

Durkin and Quinn go back to their days at Florida, when Quinn was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the Gators. Durkin worked under him at that time.

Since his firing at Maryland, Durkin hasn’t coached for another team until this Falcons training camp.