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Panthers shuffle coaching staff, promote Bruce DeHaven

Buffalo Bills v San Francisco 49ers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 7: Special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven of the Buffalo Bills yells for the referee during a field goal attempt against the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter on October 7, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 45-3. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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After the Panthers had two punts blocked and returned for touchdowns against the Vikings earlier this year, Panthers coach Ron Rivera was asked if he still supported special teams coach Richard Rodgers.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?” Rivera replied.

Sometime between now and then, the answer changed. According to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, Rivera will promote assistant special teams coach Bruce DeHaven to the first chair, and re-assign Rodgers to the defensive staff.

DeHaven is a 26-year veteran of the league, and Rodgers was an old college teammate of Rivera’s at Cal in his first special teams coaching job in the NFL, so their roles were kind of on their heads already.

But after the Panthers finished 31st in this year’s special teams rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, it was clear a change was needed.

Having Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor twice hurdle their line on field goal attempts in the playoffs was just the coda on a ridiculous season for their kicking game.

DeHaven will be Rivera’s third special teams coach in four years, after Brian Murphy was fired in midseason in 2012, allowing Rodgers to move up to the top job.