Inside the Panthers

Panthers staff changes? Only if someone leaves, Ron Rivera says, but some might

At least one Carolina Panthers coordinator will be interviewing for other job opportunities, even if it may not be the one Panthers fans hope would be on the move.

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has three head coaching interviews scheduled for this week, according to a source close to the situation. Wilks will travel to New Jersey to interview for the New York Giants opening on Tuesday, then to Arizona on Wednesday for the Cardinals, and finish off Thursday in Indianapolis with the Colts. Meanwhile offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who at times has been criticized for his play-calling, has no interviews scheduled.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he does not anticipate any coaching changes unless someone leaves to take a new job elsewhere, which would seem to indicate Shula will return.

This was Wilks’ first season as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator, where he took over for first-year Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott.

Now Rivera may be looking at a third defensive coordinator in as many seasons.

“We’ve got a couple of great candidates as far as that’s concerned,” Rivera said Monday. “And if it does come to fruition, I’ll have to go through that process again. And if I lose guys to Steve going on, then I’ll have to look at those guys as well.

“But I feel really good about the guys that we have in place in terms of being able to replace Steve.”

If Wilks does leave, then some potential internal candidates to replace him are defensive line coach Eric Washington and linebackers coach Al Holcomb.

As far as Panthers players are concerned, there was a feeling of resignation in the locker room Monday that Wilks will leave to become a head coach somewhere.

“Coach Wilks has earned that right,” linebacker Thomas Davis said Monday. “He’s done a tremendous job with coming in and taking over this defense, and really giving us a chance to be successful.

“It was tough for us to replace McDermott, but Coach Wilks came in and he did a great job. I’m sure that next guy – if coach Wilks is given that opportunity – will do the same.”

Brendan Marks: 704-358-5889, @brendanrmarks

Related stories from Charlotte Observer