Ron Rivera will return as coach of the Carolina Panthers next season.
Team spokesman Charlie Dayton said Rivera met with owner Jerry Richardson on Saturday morning and was informed that he will return for a third season. Rivera has two years on his current contract.
“He’s going about normal preparations for next season,” Dayton said.
Rivera’s status with the Panthers had been up in the air pending a meeting with Richardson on Saturday.
Richardson fired General Manager Marty Hurney after a 1-5 start and informed Rivera at the time Panthers needed to be “trending upward” the rest of the season. The Panthers went 6-4 from that point out, including four consecutive wins to close the season.
It’s unclear at this point if Rivera, who went 13-19 in two seasons win Carolina, will be forced to make any changes to his staff.
The Panthers finished this season 7-9 and in second place in the NFC South.
Vikings quarterback hurt
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was inactive for the wild-card playoff game against the Green Bay Packers because of a right elbow injury.
The surprise announcement about 90 minutes before Saturday’s game. Joe Webb started at quarterback for the Vikings.
Ponder was hurt when Packers safety Morgan Burnett delivered a jarring hit on a blitz when the teams played last Sunday. Ponder finished the game with a career-high 120.2 passer rating and three touchdowns in the 37-34 win.
His participation in practice last week was limited and Webb took many of the turns with the first team offense.
Ponder was listed as questionable on the injury report, though, and he took only about a dozen soft, short throws in early warm-ups.
Colts guard won’t play
Indianapolis Colts left guard Joe Reitz did not travel with the team for today’s wild-card playoff game at Baltimore.
Coach Chuck Pagano said Reitz was out with a concussion. Everyone else will play or is listed as probable or questionable, Pagano said.
Reitz has already missed nine games because of knee and head injuries. He is likely to be replaced by Jeff Linkenbach.
The only other player limited in Friday’s practice was backup running back Delone Carter (ankle), a former standout at Copley High School.
Three players and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians also were ill. But the players — linebacker Pat Angerer, defensive tackle Kellen Heard and offensive lineman Bradley Sowell — were full participants in practice.
Spartan to turn pro
Michigan State defensive end William Gholston is skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft.
Gholston is one of three Michigan State underclassman to announce his intentions to turn pro, joining running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims.
The 6-foot-7, 278-pound Gholston had 4½ sacks this season and 13 tackles for loss.
“I am so grateful and fortunate to even be in the position that I am today and I know none of this would even be possible without the help and support of Spartan Nation,” Gholston said in a prepared statement.