The Carolina Panthers have promoted Curtis Fuller to secondary coach and hired Lance Taylor as wide receivers coach and Jeff Imamura as assistant defensive backs/nickels coach, the team announced Thursday.
Fuller has spent the previous four seasons (2013-16) with the Panthers, most recently serving as assistant defensive backs/nickels coach in 2016. Last season, the team’s defensive backs helped the Panthers tie for fourth in the NFL with 17 interceptions while draft choices James Bradberry and Daryl Worley emerged as the team’s starting cornerbacks. Bradberry recorded 11 passes defensed to became the first rookie to lead the Panthers in passes defensed (eight) since Josh Norman in 2012, and Worley finished second on the team with 10 passes defensed.
In 2015, Fuller served as assistant special teams/nickels coach working with a secondary that helped the Panthers win the NFC Championship and pace the NFL in interceptions (24), total takeaways (39), points off turnovers (148) and turnover differential (plus-20). In addition, Fuller assisted with a special teams unit that featured a record-setting year from kicker Graham Gano, who recorded a franchise-best 146 points and converted 30 field goals, including two game-winners.
Fuller served as the Panthers defensive assistant/defensive backs coach in 2014 and was a coaching administrative assistant in 2013.
Fuller joined the Panthers after working as assistant secondary coach with the Tennessee Titans in 2012 and spending two seasons with the Green Bay Packers from 2009-10, working on a staff that won Super Bowl XLV. He also gained coaching experience with the Packers at training camp in 2008 as a participant in the NFL’s Minority Internship Program. Fuller began his coaching career as a special teams assistant with the Oakland Raiders in 2007 after working as a scouting department assistant with the Dallas Cowboys in 2006.
Chosen in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, Fuller played in 42 games with two starts in four seasons with Seattle, Green Bay and Carolina.
Taylor, who previously served as assistant wide receivers coach for Carolina in 2013, re-joins the Panthers after three seasons (2014-16) as running backs coach at Stanford.
Under Taylor’s tutelage, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey finished his college career with a 183.87 all-purpose yards per game average, the most of any active Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) player, and 6,987 all-purpose yards, the second-most of any active FBS player.
In 2015, Stanford’s rushing offense averaged 223.7 yards per game, 19th-best nationally, while McCaffrey earned Associated Press Player of the Year honors and was a Heisman Trophy finalist after becoming the first Cardinal to eclipse the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a season (2,019). Taylor was named 2015 FootballScoop.com Running Backs Coach of the Year for his efforts. In 2014, Stanford averaged 158.8 yards per game on the ground. The Cardinal rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 of 13 games.
During his first stint with the Panthers in 2013, Taylor contributed a team that won the NFC South. He worked with a receiving corps that featured three players with more than 500 receiving yards and at least four receiving touchdowns.
Taylor’s first stint in Carolina followed three seasons (2010-12) with the New York Jets. In 2012, Taylor served as the Jets’ assistant tight ends coach/quality control after previously working as offensive quality control coach (2011) and a coaching intern (2010).
Taylor joined the Jets after one season as wide receivers coach at Appalachian State, helping the Mountaineers set school records with 284 receptions and 3,621 receiving yards in 2009 and advance to the NCAA Division I Football Championship playoff national semifinals. Taylor began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at his alma mater, the University of Alabama, from 2007-08.
Imamura comes to the Panthers after two seasons (2015-16) as the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive assistant/quality control coach, focusing on the linebackers.
Last season, Imamura assisted a defense that ranked ninth in total defense while linebacker Alec Ogletree recorded 171 total tackles, the fifth highest single-season output in franchise history. During Imamura’s first season with the Rams, the defense tied for 10th in the NFL in takeaways, was sixth in third-down defense and 11th in sacks, despite injuries to key starters. The Rams have recorded 245 negative plays since the beginning of the 2015 season, the most in the NFL over the past two seasons.
Imamura coached linebackers at Minot (N.D.) State in 2014 after eight seasons (2006-13) with the Minnesota Vikings, where he was a defensive assistant working with linebackers (2006-11) and later served as assistant secondary coach working with safeties (2012-13). The Vikings defense finished among the NFL’s top 10 in total defense in four of his first five years with the club, winning back-to-back NFC North Division titles from 2008-09 and making an NFC Championship Game appearance following the 2009 season.
Before joining the Vikings, Imamura coached outside linebackers at Saginaw Valley (Mich.) State University in 2003. SVSU’s defense ranked seventh in the country in scoring defense as the team won the Great Lakes Conference regular season title with an 11-0 record and finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation before advancing to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals.
Imamura coached the defensive line at Northern Arizona University from 2000-02. He began his coaching career at Texas Christian as a defensive assistant from 1997-99, where he assisted the Horned Frogs’ defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator.