Who will fill O'Brien's shoes?

So who will fill O'Brien's shoes?<br><br> Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney said that as of Friday the Panthers hadn't asked for permission to talk to any other teams' employees, but did not rule out the possibility. 3 names for you to ponder, INSIDE.

The Panthers Special Teams unit slipped this year, mostly due to the loss of players like Rod Smart (knee) and Jarrod Cooper (multiple traffic violations), but it was NOT due to the coaching of Special Teams Coach Scotty O'Brien.

O'Brien was widely regarded as one of the best in the NFL. After last season's loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, O'Brien contemplated retirement, but decided to come back for one more year. "This is a decision that I have been considering for quite some time and feel like the timing is right," O'Brien said. "I have a great respect for Coach Fox and the entire Panther organization and wish them the best."

"We hate to lose Scott, but this is a decision in which he has given a lot of thought and we respect his wishes," said Head Coach John Fox.

So who will fill O'Brien's shoes?

Current Special Teams assistant Danny Crossman is one possibility. Crossman came to the Panthers from Michigan State University, where he served in 2002 as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator for the Spartans. Prior to coaching at Michigan State, Crossman was the Special Teams Coordinator for Georgia Tech from 1999-01 and coached two first-team All ACC specialists in kicker Luke Manget and kick returner Kelley Rhino in 2001. During his stint with Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets ranked among the NCAA leaders in kickoff return average, net punting average and punt return average.

According to Darin Gantt of the Rock Hill Herald (click here for his article) other names being mentioned are Kansas City's Frank Gansz Jr. and San Francisco's Larry Mac Duff. Both coaches have ties to the Panthers staff. For more information regarding the rumored replacements, please read Gantt's article (linked above).

According to Gantt, Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney said that as of Friday the Panthers hadn't asked for permission to talk to any other teams' employees, but did not rule out the possibility.

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