San Francisco Chronicle

Reich says he’ll call plays for Panthers, at least for now


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich said Tuesday that he plans to start out as the team’s offensive play-caller.

Reich, who called plays the past four seasons as head coach of the Indianapol­is Colts, said it’s something he feels comfortabl­e doing and enjoys, but that he eventually plans on handing over the role to offensive coordinato­r Thomas Brown.

When that will be, he doesn’t know.

“I know that is going to be hard,” Reich said. “I’ve laughed with Thomas about that already, saying ‘I’m going to pass it off at some point, I don’t know when.’ There will be a time and a place, and I think that will become apparent when that is.”

Still, Reich added he will “lean heavy” on Brown for his input on play-calling.

Brown, who spent the 2022 season as the assistant head coach/tight ends coach for the Los Angeles Rams, is one of the few assistants Reich hired who he didn’t have a previous relationsh­ip with in the league.

So while Reich feels strongly about Brown’s skills, calling him a coach with “wisdom, conviction and strength,” a level of comfort still needs to be cultivated.

Brown last was an offensive coordinato­r and play-caller from 2016 to 2018 for the Miami Hurricanes.

“I think the right thing for me to do for our team and for our offense right now is for me to continue to use my experience there,” Reich said.

Browns part ways with assistant coach

Special teams coordinato­r Mike Priefer’s shining moment with the Browns came when he coached them to a memorable playoff win.

The rest of his four seasons were underwhelm­ing.

Priefer was fired Tuesday after a 7-10 season, capping a tenure filled with inconsiste­ncy and too many breakdowns by his units.

The move came six weeks after coach Kevin Stefanski fired defensive coordinato­r Joe Woods shortly after a loss to Pittsburgh in the finale. Woods since has been hired as a coordinato­r with New Orleans.

Priefer spent three seasons on Stefanski’s staff and filled in for him when the first-year coach had COVID-19 and missed the Browns’ 48-37 AFC wild-card win over Pittsburgh in the 2020 season.

It was Cleveland’s first postseason win since 1994, and Priefer, a Cleveland native, relished the chance to lead his hometown Browns.

But the team’s issues on special teams throughout this past season led to his dismissal with one year left on his contract.

“I appreciate everything Prief has done for this team in his three seasons as my special teams coordinato­r, but I have decided to move in another direction in the best interest of our organizati­on,” Stefanski said.

Outten will guide Titans’ running backs

The Tennessee Titans have hired Justin Outten as their new running backs coach and run game coordinato­r.

Outten joins Tennessee after spending last season as offensive coordinato­r for the Broncos, taking over his new role with Tony Dews now coaching tight ends.

Outten coached tight ends with the Green Bay Packers from 2019 to 2021.

He started coaching in the NFL as an offensive intern with Atlanta in 2016 under offensive coordinato­r Kyle Shanahan and was promoted to offensive assistant for 2017, spending two seasons working with the offensive line.

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