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Capers Reportedly Agrees To Coach Carolina Panthers

Compiled From Wire Services

Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dom Capers has agreed to become head coach of the expansion Carolina Panthers of the NFL, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday.

The move will not become official until the Steelers’ season ends.

Capers, 44, met with Panthers officials in Pittsburgh last week, the Post-Gazette said. The officials then met with Rich Kotite, who was fired as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

“I can’t comment,” Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton said. He said the team had no immediate plans for an announcement regarding the coaching position.

Steelers spokesman Joe Gordon declined to comment on the report.

The Panthers apparently violated an NFL rule by trying to recruit Capers while the Steelers’ season still is going on, the Post-Gazette said. The Panthers had permission from the Steelers to talk to Capers, according to the report.

NFL officials have ordered Carolina owner Jerry Richardson to discuss the matter at a hearing in New York this week, the report said. The Panthers could be fined and lose draft choices for talking to Capers prematurely.

The Washington Post, quoting sources and an ESPN report, said contract negotiations were not under way between the Panthers and Caper, but the team has been ordered by the NFL to stop discussions with the coach because of possible violations of its anti-tampering policy.

Under Capers, the Steelers’ defense ranked second in the NFL this season to Dallas and led the NFL in sacks with 55.

The Buffalo Bills fired defensive coordinator Walt Corey after a lackluster season in which defenders improved statistically but failed to produce big plays.

After four Super Bowls, the Bills finished 7-9 missing the playoffs for the first time since 1987, the year Corey joined the team.

“Walt Corey’s contributions to the successes we have enjoyed over the past several years have been considerable,” coach Marv Levy said in a terse news release announcing the move.

“I hold him in the highest regard,” Levy said. “I feel the time has come for our team to move in a new direction so far as our defensive approach is concerned.”

Bills spokesman Scott Berchtold said the team had no further comment. Corey, known throughout the NFL for chomping on swizzle sticks along the sidelines, did not return a phone message left with the Bills.

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