September 19, 2014

DeAngelo Williams, Cotchery and Avant questionable for Sunday

Three key offensive players are questionable for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.

Running back DeAngelo Williams practiced in a limited capacity for the first time in more than a week, but his hamstring is still nagging him. Panthers coach Ron Rivera is hopeful Williams will be able to play Sunday night after missing last week's game against the Lions.

Receiver Jerricho Cotchery did not participate in Friday's practice but stayed inside the facilities and ran in the indoor pool. Cotchery suffered a hamstring injury this week and was limited in Thursday's practice.

Fellow receiver Jason Avant is also questionable with a hamstring injury. He was limited for the third consecutive practice.

Running back Fozzy Whittaker is doubtful with a quad injury. He's unlikely to play. Rivera said he and the coaches will talk Saturday about moving a player from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. If the Panthers do that, it will be a running back (likely Darrin Reaves) or receiver (Stephen Hill or Marcus Lucas).

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 19, 2014 at 01:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 17, 2014

What is the NFL's exempt list?

The NFL world was reintroduced to the exempt list on Wednesday morning, but what exactly is it?

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has been placed on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission List, which is essentially paid leave. Now, the NFL is consulting with the Panthers about placing defensive end Greg Hardy on the same list.

Perhaps the most famous instance of the league using this list came in 2009 when Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick signed with the team after serving 21 months in federal prison for dog fighting.

Here’s an explainer on the exempt list according to the NFL Player Personnel manual, per

"The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player's time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List."

Only the commissioner can place players on the list, so technically the Panthers would not be placing Hardy on it. Also, Hardy has the option to accept or challenge his placement on the list. Peterson accepted being placed on the list while he resolves his legal matters.

If Hardy is placed on the list, he will still receive his salary of about $770,000 a week. He would not count against the Panthers' 53-man roster.

The list has been used a handful of times since Vick. In 2011, Bucs safety Tanard Jackson was placed on the list for a substance abuse ban. New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma was placed on it in 2012 after Bountygate. Bucs running back Jeff Demps was also placed on it in 2013, according to

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 17, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

September 16, 2014

WR King signed by Jaguars from practice squad

The Jaguars signed Tavarres King off the Panthers’ practice squad on Tuesday.

The Panthers claimed King off waivers from the Broncos in October. He was on the 53-man roster for 10 games last season but was inactive for all of them.

He was the odd man out in the receiving group when Carolina made final cuts last month, but he went unclaimed on the waiver wire and the Panthers stashed him on the practice squad.

King, a 6-foot-1 receiver from Georgia, was selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft by Denver. He has yet to log a regular-season catch.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 16, 2014 at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

September 15, 2014

Hardy will practice, but situation remains 'fluid'

Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy will practice this week, but the team has not made a decision on his status for this week's game against Pittsburgh or the rest of the season.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said general manager Dave Gettleman is doing "due diligence" on Hardy's situation, and Rivera indicated the team's front office has been in consultation with the league office.

Rivera said Panthers officials want to act in the best interests of the team, but added the team does not plan to release Hardy, who was found guilty in July of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend.

"We're going to have to look at things and look at what's going on," Rivera said. "We’re going to have to get a feel for some things and as I said, Dave and the guys upstairs are going to do their due diligence in terms of looking at what our options are."

Hardy is guaranteed $13.1 million this season after receiving the franchise tag during the offseason. He earned $770,000 on Sunday when he was deactivated for the Panthers' win against Detroit.

Teams can deactivate players a maximum of four games under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Hardy played in the Panthers' Week 1 win at Tampa Bay. Two days before the game against Detroit, Rivera said Hardy would start against the Lions.

But the team changed course following a week that started with the TMZ video of Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee, and ended with the arrest of Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson on child-abuse charges. The Vikings forced the Panthers' hand when they announced Friday Peterson would be deactivated for their game against New England.

The Vikings announced Monday that Peterson has been reinstated and is expected to play this week.

Rivera said he's concerned about Hardy's situation becoming a distraction the longer it drags out.

"Without a doubt I am concerned about it because it becomes a distraction, and that’s part of the reason I made the decision," Rivera said. "Because if you play and you win, then it’s you don’t have a conscience. If you play him and you lose, then he’s a distraction. The decision was made in the best interest of this organization."

Rivera said Hardy understood the decision to deactivate him Sunday, and gave him permission to leave Bank of America Stadium for the game.

Hardy arrived the stadium Monday about five minutes before the start of a scheduled team meeting. He walked past a group of reporters without responding to any questions.

Mecklenburg County district judge Becky Thorne Tin in July found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill Nicole Holder, a cocktail waitress who told authorities Hardy was upset about her brief relationship with the rapper Nelly.

Hardy appealed the decision and has a jury trial set for Nov. 17, although his attorney believes it will be delayed to 2015. The Panthers have nine games before Hardy's court date, which falls on the Monday during their bye week.


--Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 15, 2014 at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (24)

September 14, 2014

RB DeAngelo Williams inactive vs. Lions

The Panthers' all-time leading rusher will not play for Carolina on Sunday.

Running back DeAngelo Williams is inactive after missing practice Thursday and Friday with a thigh injury. He was listed as questionable entering the game.

Williams rushed for a team-high 72 yards last week against Tampa Bay. Jonathan Stewart will get the start in his place.

Quarterback Joe Webb, who took special teams reps as well as one receiver rep in practice this week, is also inactive. Safety Tre Boston, linebacker Jason Williams (thigh), guard/tackle Garry Williams (hip), guard Andrew Norwell and defensive end Greg Hardy are all inactive.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

Panthers deactivate DE Greg Hardy vs. Lions

The Panthers deactivated defensive end Greg Hardy for Sunday's game against the Lions.

Hardy, who was convicted in July of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her but has appealed for a jury trial, played last week against Tampa Bay. 

Friday afternoon, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Hardy would play and start after practicing Thursday and Friday. He missed Wednesday's practice to meet with his lawyer.

Even after the Vikings deactivated running back Adrian Peterson after news broke of his indictment for child abuse, the Panthers said no plans had changed regarding Hardy's activity for Sunday.

That Hardy is inactive goes against what the Panthers have said since late July. Panthers officials, including Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman, have said they would let "the process" play out, indicating they would wait until Hardy's jury trial--slated for Nov. 17--to be completed before any possible punishment.

A Panthers official said Hardy's legal matters are unchanged. His status past this week is uncertain.

By making Hardy inactive, he will still be paid for the game. The Panthers used the franchise tag on Hardy in the offseason, signing him for one year and $13.1 million.

Hardy was seen by NFL Network and ESPN cameras arriving to the stadium around 11 a.m. as several of his teammates were already on the field warming up.

Panthers owner/founder Jerry Richardson said Wednesday night in a tearful statement that he is against domestic violence and asked for patience from the public as the Panthers handle the Hardy case.

"And when it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple," Richardson said.

"To those who would suggest that we've been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to judge."

--Jonathan Jones and Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on September 14, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (57)

September 12, 2014

DeAngelo Williams questionable for Sunday's game

The Panthers may be without their all-time leading rusher Sunday against the Lions.

Running back DeAngelo Williams missed his second straight day of practice with a thigh injury, and he's listed as questionable for the game.

Williams practiced Wednesday but sat out Thursday and Friday. He ran in the pool before practice Friday and watched practice from the side.

"I’m concerned," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "Again he’s a running back and he’s got to rely on that burst. And based on the way he ran today, we’re going to have to see how he is tomorrow morning. If he’s just the slightest bit hampered by it… We’ll have to see. It’s the burst that you’re always worried about."

Williams rushed 14 times for 72 yards last week against the Bucs. Rivera said if Williams is unable to go, his carries will be split among Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Fozzy Whittaker.

Tackle Garry Williams and linebacker Jason Williams are also questionable. 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 12, 2014 at 01:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

September 10, 2014

Jerry Richardson says he stands firmly against domestic violence

In the wake of the Ray Rice suspension and one of his own players facing domestic violence charges, Panthers owner/founder Jerry Richardson said in a tearful statement Wednesday night that he stands firmly against domestic violence.

Richardson was being honored Wednesday night in Charlotte as a recipient of an Echo Award Against Indifference.

Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy missed practice Wednesday while meeting with his lawyer. Hardy is due in court Nov. 17 for a jury trial on charges of assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her.

Richardson broke down and was having difficulty breathing as he began speaking about domestic violence.

"And when it comes to domestic violence, my stance is not one of indifference. I stand firmly against domestic violence, plain and simple," Richardson said.

"To those who would suggest that we've been too slow to act, I ask that you consider not to be too quick to judge. Over the course of our 20 years, we have worked extremely hard to build an organization of integrity..."

Richardson never mentioned Hardy by name. Richardson made no further comments as he was ushered out of a downtown Charlotte theatre following the event.

The Panthers have indicated they will allow the NFL to handle any discipline of Hardy, who was found guilty by a district judge in July of assaulting and threatening Nicole Holder during an early-morning altercation at Hardy's uptown condo in May.

Holder, a cocktail waitress at an EpiCentre club, told authorities Hardy was upset about her brief romance with the rapper Nelly after she and Hardy split up.



--Joseph Person and Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 10, 2014 at 08:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

Hardy meets with his attorney, misses practice

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy missed Wednesday's practice for personal reasons, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

Rivera said it was an excused absence and not tied to any possible disciplinary action by the league stemming from Hardy's ongoing criminal domestic violence case. Rivera deferred to Hardy and his legal representation when asked whether Hardy's absence was connected to any criminal matter.

Chris Fialko, Hardy's Charlotte-based attorney, said he had a meeting with Hardy on Wednesday. Fialko declined to divulge the details of the meeting or what the two discussed.

A district judge in July found Hardy guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder during an early-morning altercation at Hardy's uptown condo in May.

Hardy immediately appealed for a jury trial, which has been set for Nov. 17. Under North Carolina law, defendants convicted of misdemeanors who appeal are automatically granted a jury trial.

A league spokesman said Tuesday Hardy's situation remains under review. The Panthers have indicated the NFL plans to wait until Hardy's case is resolved before imposing any disciplinary action on Hardy.

Fialko said in August he believes Hardy's case will not be heard until next year, which would come after the conclusion of the NFL's regular season.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on September 10, 2014 at 04:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

September 07, 2014

Cam Newton inactive vs. Bucs

TAMPA Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will miss his first regular-season game as a professional Sunday after the Panthers placed him on their inactives list before Sunday's game at Tampa Bay.

Derek Anderson, who has been Newton’s backup for three years, will be the starter. 

Newton has cracked ribs that he suffered two weeks ago in an exhibition. He did not practice until Thursday, though it was in a limited capacity. Newton threw more than the team expected Friday, but Ron Rivera and team officials decided the risk was too great for Newton to play Week 1.

Joe Webb will be the backup quarterback. This is Anderson's first start for the Panthers and his first career start since the 2010 season when he was with Arizona. Anderson did not throw a pass in a game last season in four appearances. 

Safety Tre Boston, receiver Breton Bersin, tackle David Foucault, guard Andrew Norwell, tight end Brandon Williams and defensive end Kony Ealy are the other inactives for Carolina.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on September 7, 2014 at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)