CLEVELAND (WJW) – The Cleveland Browns have hired Ray “Bubba” Ventrone as their new assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, Fox 8 Sports Reporter John Sabol confirmed Thursday.

Ventrone returns to Cleveland after spending time here as a player from 2009 to 2012. 

Sabol says Ventrone is regarded as one of the top special teams coaches in the league. He had been the special teams coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts since 2018.

Former Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer was relieved of his duties earlier this week.

Ventrone interviewed with Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski on Wednesday, as did New York Jets assistant special teams coach Leon Washington and New York Giants assistant coach Anthony Blevins.

The 40-year-old Ventrone will be counted on to upgrade Cleveland’s special teams, which rarely had a positive impact under Priefer. Ventrone was a special teams star with the Browns from 2009-12 after playing two seasons with New England. He retired as a player following the 2014 season with San Francisco.

Ventrone’s special teams with the Colts were among the NFL’s best, ranking in the top 10 in four of the past five seasons.

Cleveland’s, on the other hand, have often been the cause for losses the past few seasons. The Browns couldn’t recover an onside kick in Week 2, when the Jets overcame a two-touchdown deficit in the final two minutes to win.

Stefanski has a few other openings on his staff and hopes to have them filled before leaving for next week’s NFL Combine. Stefanski began the offseason by firing defensive coordinator Joe Woods and replacing him with former Philadelphia Eagles coach Jim Schwartz.