CHARLOTTE - Brian Murphy has been hired as special teams coordinator, and defensive assistants Ron Meeks and Sam Mills III are returning to the Panthers, the team announced Monday.
Murphy held the same position with the Minnesota Vikings each of the past two seasons after assisting with the Vikings special teams for three seasons. Prior to that, he oversaw special teams for the University of Wisconsin for four seasons.
"We are very pleased that Brian is going to be overseeing our special teams units," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said. "He has had success on the both the college and professional levels working with special teams and brings experience in every aspect of that critical phase of the game."
Meeks was hired as defensive backfield coach after serving as Panthers defensive coordinator in 2009 and 2010. Mills will again oversee defensive quality control and also has been designated as assistant defensive line coach.
"We are glad to have both Ron and Sam stay with the Panthers," Rivera said. "They are good coaches and are familiar with the players and organization."
Murphy, 41, made an immediate impact after being promoted in Minnesota prior to the 2009. The Vikings finished ninth in comprehensive special teams rankings compiled annually by the Dallas Morning News after ranking 25th the previous season, and they had two special teams Pro Bowlers in returner Percy Harvin and coverage man Heath Farwell.
In 2010, Harvin returned a kickoff for a touchdown to add to the two he recorded in 2009, and punter Chris Kluwe recorded the second-best net punting average in team history.
Over Murphy's five seasons in Minnesota, the Vikings went to the playoffs twice, including an appearance in the 2009 NFC Championship game. On the college level, he coached on eight bowl teams.
A four-year letterwinner as a defensive lineman at Lehigh University, Murphy capped his college coaching experience by helping Wisconsin lead the Big Ten in kickoff and punt returns in 2005 before landing with the Vikings.
Meeks has spent his last nine NFL seasons as a defensive coordinator - seven with the Indianapolis Colts, then two with Carolina - but his roots are in the secondary. Meeks previously served as a secondary coach for the Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams over the course of his 20 seasons in the NFL.
Meeks, 56, played defensive back at Arkansas State and in the Canadian Football League.
Mills, 32, joined the Panthers staff in 2005. He's been around the organization since its inception, serving as a ball boy at training camp when his father, the late Sam Mills, Jr., played linebacker for the Panthers on his way to becoming the inaugural member of the team's Hall of Honor.
As defensive quality coach, Mills' responsibilities include meticulously breaking down film to chart what the defense does in every imaginable situation.