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Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson directs the players in drills during the Saints' morning Training Camp practice Thursday in White Sulphur Springs, WV.

In the midst of LSU’s preseason camp, Bill Johnson visited a longtime friend and former pupil, Ed Orgeron.

Johnson coached Orgeron at Northwestern State in the early 1980s. Then they coached the Demons’ defensive line together. Johnson oversaw the tackles. Orgeron handled the ends. Long careers have followed.

With LSU defensive line coach Dennis Johnson in a wheelchair while he recovers from torn patellar tendons in both knees, Orgeron offered Johnson a job as LSU's defensive line coach this season.

The L.A. Rams had fired Johnson in February. 

“Well,” Johnson told Orgeron, “I got to think about it."

Johnson soon accepted the position. A Louisiana native who Orgeron said always wanted to coach at LSU, Johnson joined the Tigers under a one-year agreement approved by the NCAA. He began coaching the defensive line on Friday, about two weeks before LSU's first game.

Before Johnson's arrival, Orgeron, Kenechi Udeze and graduate assistant Christian Lacouture had coached the defensive line. Udeze, who LSU hired as a defensive analyst this spring, became an on-field coach when Dennis Johnson hurt his knees.

With Bill Johnson on staff, Udeze has returned to an analyst position. Dennis Johnson is also an analyst now, a decision Orgeron said gives him time to heal. Lacouture remained a graduate assistant.

“Bill now assumes all the defensive line duties,” Orgeron said. 

After LSU’s scrimmage on Saturday, Orgeron praised Johnson’s experience. He said “the players are going to love him and the way he cares about them.” Orgeron also mentioned Johnson’s ability as a recruiter.

So, what will happen when Dennis Johnson has recovered and can return to the field? Who will coach the defensive line?

“We're going to see what happens,” Orgeron said. “Bill is the defensive line coach for this year. Then we're going to revisit everything, see what happens. Nothing can tell what happens in college football. So I'm leaving that door open. See what happens at the end.”

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Email Wilson Alexander at walexander@theadvocate.com.