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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ron Rivera will return for a third season with the Carolina Panthers, the team confirmed Saturday afternoon.

Team owner Jerry Richardson and Rivera met in Charlotte Saturday where Rivera learned he will be granted a third season.

Carolina won its last four games of the regular season--the second under Rivera--after going 6-10 last season. Rivera was named the franchise's fourth head coach on January 11, 2011.

A 1-5 start led to the firing of longtime general manager Marty Hurney, but an upward trend to finish the season will allow Rivera another shot to reach the playoffs with star quarterback Cam Newton.

Panthers spokesman Charlie Dayton says Rivera is going about normal preparations for next season.

Reaction from players was extremely positive. Wide Receiver Brandon LaFell announced on his twitter account that Rivera's return was great news! Tight end Greg Olsen added I'm very happy he's back, obviously this season wasn't what we were looking for, but I think the way we finished showed that we're headed in the right direction.

The team will begin interviewing general manager candidates on Monday, according to the Charlotte Observer. NBC Charlotte's Doug Kufner confirmed Thursday that Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross and Senior Pro Personnel Analyst Dave Gettleman are candidates. Both are expected to interview with the organization.

Rivera, 13-19 overall, has two years left on his $11 million contract.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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