CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Steve Smith was certain Rob Chudzinski wouldn't be calling plays for the Panthers this season.
Like many of his teammates, Smith thought someone would offer Carolina's offensive coordinator a head coaching job during the offseason. While Chudzinski interviewed with Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and St. Louis, he wasn't offered a job. Now he's back with Carolina -- and his players say they're selfishly thrilled.
Smith calls Chudzinski an "innovator," saying his offense is "always evolving and doesn't allow you to get comfortable, which is great."
Despite a shortened offseason in 2011, Chudzinski helped pumped life back into a stagnant offense. The Panthers went from 32nd in the league in scoring two years under former coordinator Jeff Davidson to fifth last season under Chudzinski.
But Chudzinski says new challenges lie ahead.