Panthers Rumors

Rivera On The Hot Seat

A lot of high profile coaches have been rumored to be on the hot seat this year, and while Ron Rivera’s name has certainly been mentioned, his job status has mostly flown under-the-radar. There was a report last week that new Panthers owner David Tepper could consider making “major changes” after the season, but other than that it’s been pretty quiet. Rivera let a couple of his assistant coaches go last week in an effort to help stabilize the crumbling defense, but his own job could very well be in danger.

The Panthers started the season 6-2 and were the toast of the league for a while, but have since lost five straight games. While Tepper is patient and has a good relationship with Rivera, if the losing streak continues Rivera very well may be fired after eight years with the team, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. The team lost to the Browns today, and Cam Newton‘s play has declined sharply after a hot start. Reports this week have indicated he’s been dealing with lingering shoulder pain, which has undoubtedly contributed to the team’s struggles.

Panthers Sign K Chandler Catanzaro

The Panthers signed former Bucs kicker Chandler Catanzaro, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Catanzaro will serve as insurance for kicker Graham Gano, who was limited in practice on Thursday. 

To make room for Catanzaro, the Panthers placed guard Amini Silatolu on IR with a knee injury. The 30-year-old has been dealing with a concussion and doctors were unable to clear him before this week’s contest against the Browns. Silatolu appeared in 47 games and made 31 starts between 2012-2017 for the Panthers, but saw time in just six games this year as a reserve.

Catanzaro got the boot from the Bucs in November, one day after he missed two of three field goal attempts against the Redskins. At the time, Catanzaro said that he was working to identify the issue.

I’m trying to find (the reason for the misses),” Catanzaro said after sending two of his tries wide right in the 16-3 loss. “The ball is just not going through the yellow poles right now. It’s got to do that. I’m not sure (what’s wrong). I just try to take it one kick at a time. … Something’s wrong, and I’ve done my best to fix it, and up until now, it hasn’t been fixed.”

So far, the veteran has a subpar 73.3% conversion rate on field goal tries and four missed extra point attempts on the year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Workout Updates: 12/6/18

Today’s workout updates, all courtesy of veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (on Twitter):

Carolina Panthers

  • G Jordan Morgan

Cleveland Browns

Minnesota Vikings

Washington Redskins

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/6/18

Today’s practice squad updates:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed: OL Mason Gentry, WR Daniel Williams

Indianapolis Colts

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/6/18

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

New York Giants

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Oakland Raiders

San Francisco 49ers

NFL Workout Updates: 12/4/18

Here is the latest from the workout circuit. All links to NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account, unless otherwise noted.

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington Redskins

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/4/18

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Arizona Cardinals

Carolina Panthers

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Panthers Fire Multiple Assistant Coaches

Blame for the Panthers’ four-game losing streak has begun to be distributed, as Carolina has fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).

In formally announcing the changes, the Panthers indicated head coach Ron Rivera will continue to call defensive plays, while defensive coordinator Eric Washington will control the club’s defensive front seven. Rivera will offer more assistance in coaching the secondary, while Sam Mills III will take over as Carolina’s defensive line coach after previously serving as an assistant.

“In my judgment, I felt this was best for the team moving forward,” Rivera said. “These are always difficult decisions, and I thank Brady and Jeff for their hard work. Ultimately, I’m charged with putting the team in the best position to succeed, and I felt these moves were necessary in order to do that.”

A report on Sunday indicated new Panthers owner David Tepper is considering major changes to the club’s decision-making structure, and while letting go of positional coaches certainly isn’t the same as firing Rivera or general manager Marty Hurney, it’s a start. A month ago, Carolina stood at 6-2 and looked poised to secure an NFC Wild Card spot, or possibly chase down the Saints in the NFC South. Now, after losing to Buccaneers on Sunday, the Panthers have just a 16% chance of making the playoffs, per FiveThirtyEight.com.

Hoke, a former collegiate coach at Michigan, San Diego State, and Ball State, joined the Panthers earlier this year after Wasington was promoted to defensive coordinator. While the Panthers have fielded an excellent run defense under Hoke’s tutelage, the team ranks 24th in sacks and 25th in adjusted sack rate. Those figures are a far cry from 2017, when Carolina finished third in the NFL with 50 sacks and a 9.1% adjusted sack rate.

Imamura, whose official title had been assistant secondary coach/cornerbacks, was hired by Carolina in 2017 after previously serving as a defensive quality control coach for the Rams. His role grew this summer after Curtis Fuller resigned as the Panthers’ secondary coachRichard Rodgers was promoted to replace Fuller, while Imamura took on more responsibility as Rodgers’ assistant. Carolina ranks 27th in pass defense DVOA, down from 11th a season ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers TE Greg Olsen Done For Season

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is expected to miss the rest of the season after rupturing the plantar fascia on his right foot, according to David Newton of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Olsen, 33, already missed three games earlier this season after suffering a fracture in his right foot. That foot has been a serious issue for Olsen over the past two seasons, as an injury to that extremity also cost him nine games in 2017. He came back incredibly quickly this year, but it’s unclear if that accelerated return contributed to Olsen re-injuring his foot today.

Olsen will finish the 2018 campaign having appeared in eight games, managing 26 receptions for 278 yards and four touchdowns during that time. While he’s been among the league’s best tight ends since joining the Panthers via trade in 2011, Olsen isn’t necessarily a lock to return next season, especially given his injuries. Carolina, which could be making changes to its decision-making structure, would save $3.4MM by making Olsen a post-June 1 cut in 2019.

The Panthers, now on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture goes, will turn to Chris Manhertz and Ian Thomas at tight end for the rest of the season. If Olsen is placed on injured reserve, Carolina could promote Jason Vander Laan from its practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.