Blaine Gabbert's secret wide receiver

NEW ORLEANS -- Carolina coach Ron Rivera revealed one interesting detail about the recent workout by Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Missouri only had a handful of senior receivers taking part in its pro day, so Gabbert got to make some throws to another receiver. That was Ricky Proehl.

The long-time NFL receiver, who spent three years near the end of his career with Carolina, ran some routes for Gabbert. I wish I had a chance to see that because Proehl, 43, always worked very hard to keep himself in good shape. Even after retiring after spending part of the 2006 season with Indianapolis, Proehl stayed very active, running a fitness business in Greensboro, N.C.

But Proehl recently returned to football. After Rivera was hired, Proehl reached out to ask about joining the coaching staff.

“Just listening to his passion when he talked, Ricky reminded me so much of myself when I got into it,’’ said Rivera, who also entered coaching after an NFL playing career. “That was probably the biggest thing that attracted me. I'd known Ricky before. When I started my coaching career, Ricky was in Chicago.

“I really got a big kick out of how much he reminded me of myself wanting to start, saying, 'Hey, look, I'll do whatever. I'll start at the bottom’’. I used to want that opportunity because I really thought I could help. We were really intrigued by that.’’

The Panthers hired Proehl as an offensive coaching consultant. His main job will be to help coach the wide receivers. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Proehl ends up running some routes if the Panthers have a few practices where they’re a little shorthanded at receiver.