2015 DRAFT GUIDE
Panthers pass rush bright spot in losing season

By STEVE REED - AP Sports Writer
    2012-11-14 17:52

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The Carolina Panthers' pass rush has proven to a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy have combined for 15 sacks in the past six games making them the NFL's second-most productive sack tandem in the league behind only Denver's Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Not bad for a pair that coach Ron Rivera describes as having ``completely different personalities.''

Rivera said he wouldn't trade the tandem for any in the NFL, adding ``as our defensive line has grown, our defense has gotten better.''

Carolina's 16th-ranked defense has held opposing offenses to 20 points or less in each of their last five games. Unfortunately for the Panthers, four of those games have resulted in defeats as Cam Newton and the offense continues to struggle.

Johnson and Hardy have formed a formidable duo, even if they both admit they're nothing alike.

Johnson is more of the calm veteran who rarely loses his cool.

Hardy is the emotional one, the guy who paints his entire face on game day and transforms himself into an alter-ego he calls ``Kraken.''

``Greg is more excitable, loud and, well, I guess you'd say kind of a wild boy,'' Johnson said. ``I'm just cool and calm and I like to work. I like to earn everything I get.''

Hardy has always been a bit of a wild card.

He came to training camp in 2011 with his body beat up after a motorcycle accident in Tennessee left him with severe skin abrasions. Hardy traded that motorcycle in for a Bentley, but drew the ire of coaches this past offseason when he Tweeted a picture of his speedometer reading 100 miles per hour.

Even Rivera admits Hardy is ``a little off the wall'' but that ``he's all business when it comes to the game. He's fiery and emotional.''

Hardy laughs when he hears others' perception of him.

``What people don't understand is it's a persona, an attitude,'' Hardy said. ``I have to get hyped for a game. If you're not ready for the game, it will hit you in the face and you'll wind up on IR (injured reserve).''

Johnson, now in his sixth NFL season, has developed into a true pro, Rivera said.

When linebacker Jon Beason went down with an injury Rivera asked Johnson to step out of character a bit and put the ``C'' on his jersey for team captain. That's a role even Johnson wasn't quite comfortable with at first, admitting that he doesn't view himself as a vocal leader.

But Rivera said leading by example is just fine, too.

``I think he has matured into the type of player we envisioned he could be,'' Rivera said of Johnson, the highest-paid player in team history after inking a six-year, $76 million contract in 2011.

Johnson has 8.5 sacks this season and is on pace to shatter his career-high of 11.5. Hardy already has established a new career-best (6.5 sacks) with seven games remaining.

Together they've combined to force six fumbles and recovered two.

They'll be tested on Sunday when the Panthers host red hot Tampa Bay, which has won four of its last five games.

Quarterback Josh Freeman has been on fire during that span with 13 touchdown passes and one interception.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano said his team will have its hands full.

``The thing I love is the way they play, some of them are really finesse moves and stuff, you sit there and go `Wow,''' Schiano said. ``A lot of those sacks are just hard effort and playing sacks that they just outwork the guy that's blocking them and get to the quarterback. We know we're really, really going to have to strain our guts out to protect Josh and it's a huge challenge for us.''

Carolina's pass rushing duo started the season off slow, failing to register a sack in the first three games of the season.

Rivera believes the turnaround is due in part to veteran defensive tackles Ron Edwards and Dwan Edwards getting settled in on defense. Ron Edwards, the big body gap-filler up front, missed all of first season in Carolina with a torn triceps, while Dwan Edwards has been a huge free agent acquisition this year contributing five sacks.

``It helps when you can get a push from inside at the three-technique spot,'' Rivera said.

The Panthers lost 36-14 to the Broncos this past Sunday, but only 20 came at the hands of Peyton Manning and Denver's offense.

The other 16 came from Denver's defense and special teams.

Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott believes holding the last five offenses to 20 points or less is major progress from 2011.

``I'm not taking anything away from the wins and losses (because) that's the most important thing of our business,'' McDermott said. ``But I've got a goal as a defensive coordinator and a vision, and we're moving forward toward that vision. Anybody who was at the field saw that those guys played tough, aggressive football through and through until the end of the game.''

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Carlos HydeJul 29 11:13a

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde is not believed to be injured and shouldn't be on the non-football injury list for long. Hyde suffered a calf injury during spring [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 09:23a

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady posted on Facebook that he replaced his broken phone with a new one after his attorneys told the NFL 'my [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 29 01:53a

Updating a previous report, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady could have had his suspended reduced based on a series of conditions. According to a source with knowledge of [ More ]

Eric BerryJul 29 01:43a

Kansas City Chiefs SS Eric Berry (illness) has been cleared to take the practice field with the team Wednesday, July 29. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in December [ More ]

Geno SmithJul 28 08:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith could be benched if he struggles early in the season, according to head coach Todd Bowles Tuesday, July 28. 'If you feel that [ More ]

Ryan WilliamsJul 28 05:53p

Dallas Cowboys RB Ryan Williams (knee) was placed on Reserve/Injured Tuesday, July 28.

Brodrick BunkleyJul 28 05:43p

New Orleans Saints DT Brodrick Bunkley (undisclosed) was released with a failed physical designation Tuesday, July 28.

James WrightJul 28 05:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR James Wright (knee) was waived with an injured designation Tuesday, July 28.

Darrin ReavesJul 28 05:33p

Carolina Panthers RB Darrin Reaves was waived Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 05:13p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is facing a four-game suspension, but the Patriots have done fairly well without him. In games Brady has missed since he became a [ More ]

Tom BradyJul 28 04:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady has given permission to the NFL Players Association to appeal his case in federal court, according to a source. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell [ More ]

Lamar MillerJul 28 03:43p

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller may see an increase in carries in 2015, according to head coach Joe Philbin. 'If he's cranking and he got it 24 times a [ More ]

Le'Veon BellJul 28 03:03p

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell's original three-game suspension has been reduced to a two-game suspension Tuesday, July 28.

Tom BradyJul 28 02:53p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been upheld by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, July 28.

Victor CruzJul 28 02:23p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) is supposedly faster now than he was before he tore his patellar tendon last season, according to teammate CB Prince Amukamara. Amukamara [ More ]

Ryan WilliamsJul 28 11:53a

Dallas Cowboys RB Ryan Williams (knee) was waived/injured Tuesday, July 28.

Josh FreemanJul 28 10:43a

Free-agent QB Josh Freeman (Dolphins) was re-signed by the Miami Dolphins Tuesday, July 28, according to his agent, Ron Freeman.

Tom BradyJul 28 10:13a

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is expected to have his four-game suspension upheld, a source told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Smith said on 'ESPN First Take' Tuesday, July [ More ]

Chris CooleyJul 27 10:42p

Free-agent TE Chris Cooley (Redskins) is still considering a comeback, although he said Monday, July 27, in a radio interview that he does not anticipate a team signing him [ More ]

Josh McCownJul 27 10:32p

Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown enters training camp as the team's starting signal caller, but head coach Mike Pettine said Monday, July 27, that McCown is not guaranteed of [ More ]

Markus WheatonJul 27 07:12p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Markus Wheaton is believed to have performed the best among the wide receivers during offseason workouts.

Brandon LaFellJul 27 05:22p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (foot) was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, July 27.

Jadeveon ClowneyJul 27 05:12p

Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list Monday, July 27.

Kevin BrockJul 27 05:02p

Free-agent TE Kevin Brock (Bengals) signed with the New Orleans Saints Monday, July 27.

Matthew TuckerJul 27 05:02p

Philadelphia Eagles RB Matthew Tucker (undisclosed) was waived from the Non-Football Injury list Monday, July 27.

Da'Quan BowersJul 27 04:52p

Free-agent DE Da'Quan Bowers (Buccaneers) signed an undisclosed deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Monday, July 27.

Jonathan MartinJul 27 03:02p

Carolina Panthers OT Jonathan Martin (back) has chosen to retire. Martin will need surgery on his injured back.

Tom BradyJul 27 02:02p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension still has not been announced, and the NFL is now open to talking with the NFL Players Association [ More ]

Doug MartinJul 27 12:02p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin could be in line for a big, bounce-back year, in the opinion of beat writer Roy Cummings.

Casey MatthewsJul 27 09:12a

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve due to a hip injury Sunday, July 26.

Casey MatthewsJul 26 02:52p

Minnesota Vikings LB Casey Matthews (hip) has been placed on injured reserve due to a hip injury that occurred during the team's offseason program.

Blair WalshJul 26 02:32p

Minnesota Vikings PK Blair Walsh signed a four-year contract extension Sunday, July 26, worth $14 million. The deal includes $5.25 million in guaranteed money.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group