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Ron Rivera says his job in Carolina safe through 2012 season

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

There have only been four coaches in the (admittedly short) history of the Carolina Panthers,and none have been fired during a season. Ron Rivera, speaking at his Monday press conference following a brutal 27-21 overtime loss to the Buccaneers, said he doesn't expect to become Jerry Richardson's first in-season firing.

Carolina is without a general manager, having canned Marty Hurney a few weeks ago. That makes Rivera's status a complete toss-up, but the coach expects to be given until the end of 2012 to try and keep his gig.

“I don't know what's going to happen, and I won't know until after the season. I know that much. And I know that nothing's going to happen until after the season," Rivera said, per Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. "So what our guys have to understand is that they're playing for now. They're playing for each other."

The odds of Rivera returning after this season are slim: At 2-8, the Panthers have the worst record in the NFC. They're much more in the hunt for the top overall pick than they are the playoffs, a notion that seems unfathomable given the hype that surrounded this team before the season.

Whatever happens though, Rivera says he's fine.

"I'm not concerned about me, I'm really not. I'm concerned about them," Rivera said. "We have a group of coaches that I believe in 100 percent. I'll be all right. No matter what happens, I'll be OK. Whether I'm here next year or not, I will be A-OK."

Dumping Rivera during the season might not really make a difference, anyway, unless Richardson and newly appointed advisor Ernie Accorsi are seriously considering someone on the current coaching staff to run the team.

If they're not considering that as an option (or at least a very serious option), it makes sense to give Rivera the remainder of his second year before doing anything drastic.

And, based on Rivera's comments, that's clearly the message communicated from the top down.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

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