Home > Training Camp > Did the Panthers steal the next Peppers?

Did the Panthers steal the next Peppers?

There has been a lot of chatter lately about Panthers 6th round pick Greg Hardy, the defensive end from Ole Miss, and most of the talk centers around the pre-draft rumors that Hardy “[was a guy with] a poor work ethic and a guy who simply disappeared for long periods of time”.

The funny thing is: he was at one time projected to be the first pick overall. In the entire draft. But, that was before he went back to Ole Miss for his senior year, and before he developed his reputation for being a problem child. (Some sources say that he missed as many as 20 team meetings and constantly challenged his coaches.)

So how did the kid end up on the Carolina Panthers, the one NFL team above all with the reputation of avoiding trouble-makers at all costs? Could it be that the rumors about Hardy just simply aren’t true? Could it be that the kid got an undeserved rep while in school? Apparently, the Panthers brass feel that the knocks on Hardy’s reputation are simply rumor, because what they saw was an early round talent sitting in the stockpile in the sixth round, and they knew that they could use a guy with Hardy’s speed and athleticism on the defensive line, so they took a chance.

And so far, they are glad they did.

Panthers defensive line coach Brian Baker says he heard the rumors about Hardy before the draft. But after working with him for a few months, he’s convinced they simply aren’t true and that the kid does have the desire. “I was a college coach for 12 years before I came to the league, and in the 15 since then it’s the same thing — guys get labels on them sometimes … sometimes it’s legit and sometimes it’s not. In his case it hasn’t been legit.”

To Hardy it’s all a bit perplexing, because he prides himself on his work ethic. Perhaps that’s why he seems like a caged animal fighting for his freedom every day on the field. Case in point. On the final day of OTAs every year, the Panthers run conditioning tests. Hardy ran against the rest of the team’s linemen, four times back and forth across the width of the football field. It wasn’t close. Hardy blew away the competition by more than 20 yards. Then he did it again. And again.

Hardy, on his work ethic:

That’s one of the things a lot of people don’t think I have, but I’m going to constantly prove that I do … I’m going to be more in shape. I’m going to be more physical. I’m going to be faster because I’m out here grinding. I came to camp like that and I’m going to leave camp like that. That’s me in general every day of the week, all year long…

Sounds to me like he’s a kid with an undeserved bad reputation who wants nothing more but to come out and prove his detractors wrong.

It would be nice if he can come out and give the same production he had at Ole Miss — 26.5 career sacks, 7 forced fumbles (recovering 4)  and  39.5 tackles for a loss — because the Panthers can use all the help on the defensive line they can get. It would be an added bonus if that help is a reincarnation of the best defensive end in franchise history.

* * * *
Quotes courtesy of Steve Reed, Carolina Growl.

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  1. 2 August 2010 at 1:37 PM

    Sounds like a beast. Panthers will need all they can get to replace Peppers, but having a good attitude for starters helps.

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