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Is the Fox era in Carolina nearing its end?

After nine seasons, John Fox's run with the Carolina Panthers appears to be nearing its end.

Speculation abounds that Fox, who is in the last year of his contract, will not be retained after this season. With a 77-69 overall record, Fox ranks as the winningest coach in franchise history, and he guided Carolina to three playoff appearances, including a spot in the 2003 Super Bowl and the 2005 NFC championship game.

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Asked if it was difficult to play under the shadow of Fox's tenuous job status, middle linebacker Jon Beason said, "The majority of the team is in the last year of their contracts. It's just a sign of the times and that's really something on the back burner. We're just trying to play football for him."One Ravens player who knows Fox well is practice-squad quarterback Hunter Cantwell. He spent last year and the preseason with the Panthers before getting cut prior to the regular season.

Cantwell said his former teammates tend to reflect their coach's tenacity.

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"The players really respect him," he said. "They want to play hard for him. He does a great job of motivating the guys during the week and getting them ready to play. I'm sure we'll see that on Sunday."

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