INDIANAPOLIS – Several members of the Panthers coaching staff will have new titles for the 2016 season.
"They are promotions, and the guys have all earned them," head coach Ron Rivera said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "This is an opportunity to really define roles."
John Matsko, who had served as Carolina's offensive line coach since 2011, has been promoted to running game coordinator. Ray Brown, who had served as Matsko's assistant the past five seasons, has been promoted to offensive line coach.
Richard Rodgers and Curtis Fuller remain assistant defensive backs coaches, but Rodgers will focus on the safeties. Fuller will continue to work with nickel backs but will narrow his focus with special teams assistant no longer a part of his title.
Rivera said that all of his returning assistants have received two-year contract extensions in appreciation of their performances. The entire coaching staff is back from the 2015 season aside from the addition of Thomas McGaughey as special teams assistant in place of Russ Purnell.
"Thomas McGaughey is a young, dynamic coach, a high-energy guy who has had success," Rivera said. "He's been on a championship team (with the New York Giants in 2007), so he understands those little things you're looking for to get over the edge."
Matsko, even before his title change to running game coordinator, played a major role in the Panthers rushing for 100 or more yards in 32 consecutive games – the longest streak in the NFL since 1978.
"Moving Coach Matsko to running game coordinator is really just a show of respect for what he's done as far as our offense is concerned," Rivera said. "Promoting Ray to offensive line coach is something he has earned."
Brown, an offensive lineman for 20 NFL seasons who became the oldest player to start a playoff game one month short of his 44th birthday in 2005, has been coaching in the league since his retirement. This is his first opportunity to lead an offensive line.
"His significance to who we are as a football team is very important," Rivera said of Brown, who led several drills on the first day of on-field workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium. "His experience as a player and now as a coach, he transcends being more than just the assistant. His work has been invaluable, especially with our younger players and the development of guys like
"Ray has grown to the point where he deserves this opportunity. He's earned it."
Staff writer Max Henson contributed to this report.