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Panthers eye defensive coordinators to fill head-coach job

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Carolina Panthers executives hit the road this week to conduct interviews with four head-coaching candidates, a source with knowledge of the situation said Sunday.

The team doesn't have any other interviews planned as they seek a replacement for John Fox, whose contract wasn't renewed after nine seasons.

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It's entirely possible the Panthers' next head coach could come from this list of defensive coordinators -- Ron Rivera (San Diego Chargers), Perry Fewell (New York Giants), Greg Manusky (San Francisco 49ers) and Rob Ryan (Cleveland Browns) -- according to the source.

Rivera, whose defense ranked first in the NFL this season, is seen by many other general managers as a logical choice, given his experience, record, history of consideration for other head-coaching positions and ties to Panthers GM Marty Hurney through the Chargers' organization.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday that the Panthers and Rivera are setting up a second interview, which will be held "in the next few days" in Charlotte, N.C. The newspaper said it's believed that Rivera will talk with Hurney, president Danny Morrison and owner Jerry Richardson.

Fewell and Rivera also are candidates for the Denver Broncos' head-coaching vacancy. Fewell is on the Cleveland Browns' candidates list, too.

Manusky and Ryan might be in line for a defensive coordinator position with Carolina, as both could in essence become free agents with their current organizations bringing in new coaching staffs.

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