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Panthers make Fox's exit official

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As John Fox left practice Friday, he insisted he has known about his impending departure for about two years.

A few hours later, the Panthers formally announced the end of his nine-year run in which he led the franchise to its only Super Bowl.

In a news release, the Panthers finally announced the contracts of Fox and the rest of his staff wouldn't be renewed after Sunday's game at Atlanta.

"It's been a lot of great memories, a lot of fond memories, a lot of great relationships and something I'll cherish forever," Fox said. "Now (I'll) just embark on the next chapter."

Fox was first denied a contract extension after the 2008 season. He entered the last year of his deal this fall after the Panthers began a youth movement that's left them an NFL-worst 2-13.

"It's not new," Fox, 55, said of his impending departure. "It's something I've been preparing for actually for a couple of years."

Fox was 78-73 in Carolina. The Panthers never had consecutive winning seasons under Fox, who inherited a 1-15 team from George Seifert in 2002.

Saints back hurt: Running back Pierre Thomas appeared to hurt his left ankle at practice and was listed as questionable for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Bucs.

Favre to sit finale? Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (concussion) is listed as doubtful to play in what he has said will be the final game of his 20-year career. Favre didn't participate in any drills Friday, and interim coach Leslie Frazier would not say whether Favre has passed the testing required by the NFL to return to action. Still, Frazier refused to rule Favre, 41, out vs. Detroit.

hit Fines reduced: Upon appeal, the NFL reduced the fines for Atlanta's Dunta Robinson ($50,000 to $25,000) and New England's Brandon Meriweather ($50,000 to $40,000), both cited for flagrant hits against defenseless receivers.

Bengals: Receiver Chad Ochocinco (bone spur in left ankle) will miss the finale vs. the Ravens and needs surgery.

Bills: Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (right knee) is questionable for the Jets game.

Cowboys: Quarterback Jon Kitna (muscle in right side) is listed as questionable for the finale vs. Philadelphia. He did not practice Friday, increasing the odds that Stephen McGee will make the first NFL career start. Kitna will make the trip, so it's possible he could play.

Eagles: Quarterback Michael Vick (bruised right leg) is unlikely to play against the Cowboys after he missed a second straight day of practice and was listed as questionable.

Jaguars: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (right knee) will not play in the finale at Houston. He likely will have surgery after the season.

Jets: Quarterback Mark Sanchez (sore right shoulder) was limited in practice but will start vs. the Bills. … Ryan said he won't comment on a new set of foot-fetish photos that allegedly feature his wife, calling it "a personal matter." The photos posted on the Internet include a woman who resembles Ryan's wife, Michelle, and an unidentified man, who is not the Jets coach, smelling and rubbing the woman's bare feet.

Seattle: Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (hip strain) was limited in practice in his first work of the week, leaving open the possibility he could play vs. the Rams. Hasselbeck will be listed as questionable, and backup Charlie Whitehurst is likely to start.

Steelers: Safety Troy Polamalu (right Achilles' tendon) practiced for the first time in three weeks, leaving his status against Cleveland uncertain.

Texans: Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson will not play vs. the Jaguars and will have arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle next week.

Vikings: Quarterback Joe Webb was fined $5,000 by the NFL for a "major" face mask penalty against Philadelphia linebacker Jamar Chaney during a run Tuesday.

Panthers make Fox's exit official 12/31/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 31, 2010 8:44pm]
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