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Senior Bowl Notebook

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Rivera is popular at Senior Bowl

By Joseph Person
jperson@charlotteobserver.com

MOBILE, Ala. Head coaches with job openings attract a crowd at the Senior Bowl.

Such is the case this week for Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who has at least three vacancies on his staff – linebackers coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive quality control assistant. Rivera also could hire an assistant special teams coach after making Richard Rodgers the special teams coordinator last week.

The Panthers met with Bill Davis on Monday about the linebackers position, a league source said.

Davis coached outside linebackers under Dom Capers during the Panthers’ first four seasons of existence.

Davis, who has been a defensive coordinator in Arizona and San Francisco, spent the past two seasons in Cleveland. Jacksonville linebackers coach Mark Duffner interviewed with the Panthers last week before deciding to stay with the Jaguars under new coach Gus Bradley.

Former Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who ran the Atlanta Falcons’ defense from 2008 to 2011, also is expected to meet with the Panthers.

Small school, big dreams: Wideout Aaron Mellette is the first Elon player to be selected for the Senior Bowl, but the Sanford native believes he’s on equal footing with the receivers from bigger schools this week.

“At the end of the day, all of us are getting analyzed the same way, regardless if you’re the top (player) here at you’re position or you’re not,” Mellette said. “We’re all on a equal playing field. So if those guys don’t come to play, then they’re going to get written off, as well.”

Mellette, 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, caught 97 passes for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He finished as the Southern Conference’s No. 2 all-time receiver with 304 catches for 4,254 yards and 44 TDs.

He was one of 29 small-school players on a preseason watch list for the Senior Bowl, and was inspired by former Appalachian State wideout Brian Quick, the 33rd overall pick by St. Louis last year.

Talking Te’o: NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said it’s too soon to say whether the bizarre saga of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o will hurt his draft status. Te’o, regarded as the top inside linebacker in the draft, said he was a victim, not a perpetrator of the hoax involving his fictitious, dead girlfriend.

No-shows: North Carolina offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper, one of the top-rated guards, is one of seven players who pulled out of the Senior Bowl. The list also includes Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley.

South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger will miss the game because of injury. A South Carolina coach said Swearinger injured his foot in the Outback Bowl; Swearinger tweeted he is dealing with a hamstring issue.

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