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Job To Do, But Todd Bowles In Demand

Notebook: Defensive coordinator attracting interest; Panthers overcome slow start

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Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (center) is flanked by inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell (left) and defensive line coach Brentson Buckner before the 49ers game.

Todd Bowles could be a busy man next week, but through Saturday's game against the Panthers, it will be status quo.

While the Cardinals' defensive coordinator is drawing interest from the teams with head coaching vacancies, he can't be interviewed for the position until after the wild card game concludes, per NFL rules. Coach Bruce Arians said he's discussed with Bowles the delicate

situation of looking for a coaching job while still helping the Cardinals in the playoffs, but doesn't expect it to be a distraction.

"We've talked about it," Arians said. "This week is hands off anyways. Next week, when you're preparing for the game, set aside a time that you want to pick a team or which teams you want to talk to, and I'm all for it. He deserves it and he's earned the right, but it's not going to affect his focus on next week's game."

Bowles received a midseason contract extension from the organization, although both sides knew it was inevitable he would get attention from other teams. Bowles interviewed for the vacant Browns and Vikings jobs last year, and has continued to be one of the league's hot names because of the job he's done with a defense hit hard by injuries.

The Cardinals were fifth in the NFL in points per game allowed (18.7) after finishing seventh in that category a season ago. The five coaching openings this offseason are with the Bears, Falcons, Raiders, Jets and 49ers. All five teams reportedly have interest in interviewing Bowles.

Arians had a list of coaches he wanted on his staff when he came to Arizona, and seems to have a similar one in mind if Bowles does depart for a head coaching gig this offseason.

"We have guys who are more than capable of filling it," Arians said.

THE HOT AND COLD PANTHERS

The Panthers enter the postseason winners of four straight, which is tied for the second-longest winning streak in the NFL behind only the Seahawks. Despite that, they still finished the regular season below .500 at 7-8-1.

Coach Ron Rivera said the return to health of quarterback Cam Newton and some tweaks in the secondary have helped Carolina find its

groove, although he stopped short of saying the team is better than its record.

"I think we have had our moments," Rivera said in a conference call with Arizona reporters. "We've had some really good games where we played really well. Last week (a 34-3 win over the Falcons to clinch the NFC South) was an indication of it, and then we've had some games where we didn't play as well as we were capable, or at least I didn't think we did. So there is room for improvement and growth as far as we are concerned."

The Panthers are only the second sub-.500 team to make the postseason in a non-strike-shortened season. The 7-9 Seahawks won their opening playoff game over the heavily favored Saints in 2010. The debate has been renewed as to whether an under .500 team should host a playoff game, but it's of little concern to Newton.

"At this point, it really doesn't matter what another person may think," Newton said. "We're in the playoffs. No matter what record, we're in."

STANTON'S AVAILABILITY STILL CLOUDY

There was no change in quarterback Drew Stanton's status Tuesday, as Arians is still hopeful to get him back for Saturday's wild card matchup.

Arians said he will need Stanton to practice one time by Thursday in order to play him. Stanton has missed two straight games since injuring his knee in the second half against the Rams in Week 15.

Stanton was not participating during the open portion of practice on Tuesday, while defensive end Frostee Rucker and defensive tackle Dan Williams were riding stationary bikes. The first injury report of the week isn't released until Wednesday.

TIGHT END ADDED TO PRACTICE SQUAD

Ted Bolser, a seventh round pick of the Redskins in the 2014 draft, was signed to the practice squad Tuesday. He set school records for a tight end with 117 receptions for 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns in 48 games at Indiana.

The Cards had an opening because tight end Andre Hardy was placed on the practice squad injured list with a calf ailment.



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