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New assistant coaches are good fits


Head coach Ron Rivera has added a couple of coaches with little or no position coach experience, except Jim Skipper. I thought they would add coaches with more experience. What are your thoughts on this? – David in Charlotte

Technically, neither wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl nor quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey has experience as a position coach, but they have experience that should prove invaluable to this Panthers team.

Proehl has been getting on-the-job training as the Panthers' assistant wide receivers coach the past two seasons and knew the position well even before that, having played 12 seasons in the NFL – including three with Cam Newton. Dorsey spent his first two seasons with the Panthers as a pro scout, but he's already done plenty of homework regarding quarterback Cam Newton's game. A highly decorated quarterback at the University of Miami who played six NFL seasons, Dorsey worked with Newton at IMG Academy during the 2011 NFL work stoppage and has helped out at practice throughout his time with the Panthers.

It's good to have a balance of experience and youthful exuberance on a coaching staff, and up-and-comers like Proehl, Dorsey, linebackers coach Al Holcomb and assistants wide receivers coach Lance Taylor will get plenty of perspective from veteran additions Jim Skipper and Bruce DeHaven. Skipper (running backs) and DeHaven (assistant special teams) are both entering their 27th NFL season. They've seen it all and should be able to provide valuable insight not only to the Panthers' other new coaches but also to Rivera.

Can the Panthers be a Super Bowl team with the group of guys that they had this past season? What do the Panthers need to do this offseason to help them win those close games that didn't happen this past season? – Matt in Knoxville, Tenn.

Teams rarely are in position to go into next season with the same "group of guys" – just witness the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and their changes to come. Even fewer teams can afford to move forward with the status quo in the ultra-competitive NFL.

I believe the Panthers have a core capable of competing for championships, but as you referenced, they first need to figure out how to consistently close out games before setting their sights on the Super Bowl. Last year's taxing experiences will help, and the Panthers will spend the next few months looking to add players that can help as well. A lot of the pieces are in place, as evidenced by Carolina's 5-1 finish to the season. But unlike jigsaw puzzles, finding the right pieces to complete the puzzle is sometimes the hardest part.

Congrats to Luke Kuechly for a great season and making Panthers fans proud by winning Defensive Rookie of the Year. Do you know if there was an overall Rookie of the Year or was there just an offensive and defensive award? I recall last year that Cam Newton won both offensive ROY and overall ROY. – Fabian at Calipatria, Calif.

There was once again an overall rookie of the year, presented by Pepsi Max. While Kuechly won Defensive Rookie of the Year and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III won Offensive Rookie of the Year, the Pepsi honor went to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

While 50 members of the NFL media voted for the Associated Press awards captured by Kuechly and Griffin, fans voted via the Internet for the Pepsi award, and it had a very offensive-oriented slant. All five finalists played offense, and all 17 weekly winners were offensive players. Kuechly was one of just three defensive players nominated for the weekly award more than once. He obviously didn't win it, but he was NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for December and was NFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 14 in addition to winning the big one Sunday.

What teams do the Panthers play in 2013, home and away? – Larry in Marshville, N.C.

In addition to NFC South foes, the home schedule features the New England Patriots as well as visits for the second consecutive season by the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks. The road schedule includes a trip to the San Francisco 49ers.

Click here for a complete list of 2013 opponents, along with more information about how the Panthers' opponents were determined by the NFL. Game dates typically are announced in April.

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