The Panthers are off to a 2-0 start, and have a chance to improve on it in prime time against the Steelers Sunday night.
And they hope, by then, we’re talking about the guys on the field.
With the Greg Hardy situation settled for now with his double-secret-probation with pay placement on the commissioner’s exempt list, the Panthers can get about the business of playing without their franchise-tagged defensive end.
“Distraction? I wouldn’t say it’s much of a distraction,” quarterback Cam Newton said, via David Newton of ESPN.com. “You kind of, you [hurt] for a person [like] Greg who has done, in my opinion, every single thing that was asked of him to do.
“There’s a lot of guys that feel for Greg, including myself. But we still have a job to do, and that’s to put the best performance that we have had this whole season for Sunday night.”
Hardy will be allowed back at the facility to work out, but won’t practice or play until his legal matter is resolved.
Whether that’s at a Nov. 17 court date or whether he tries to strike a plea deal to get back on the field sooner (which would result in a six-game suspension without pay), no one knows at the moment.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’d welcome Hardy back, but gave him a few days to let the dust settle, after his status had clouded the start of the Panthers season.
“All the controversy, we’re not going to let that affect us on the field,” Newton said. “And it’s kind of hard to do that, especially in this type of situation. But, in the end, it’s not about Greg Hardy. It’s about the Carolina Panthers trying to put the best product that they can [on the field].”
And for now, that’s without the guy who’s taking up around 10 percent of their salary cap to go away.