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Panthers’ Greg Hardy drew $25,000 fine for 2012 hit, but Carson Palmer says it was clean

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Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
This hit by Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy on then-Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) during the first quarter of a Dec. 23, 2012, game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte resulted in a 15-yard penalty on Hardy for roughing the passer, and later a $25,000 fine. Carson, now quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, said Wednesday the hit was clean, if painful. Carson and the Cardinals host Carolina on Sunday.

The NFL thought Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy’s hit on former Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer last season was deserving of a penalty flag and a $25,000 fine.

But the guy who sustained cracked ribs and a bruised lung on the play said Hardy’s hit was clean.

“I do definitely remember it, and I probably won’t forget it,” Palmer said Wednesday during a conference call with Charlotte media. “He got me good. I gave him an opportunity to get me. I don’t think it should have been a flag. Those kind of hits now, just because they look pretty gruesome, get flagged. But it was a legal hit and my own fault for not getting rid of the football.”

Palmer, the Cardinals quarterback who will face the Panthers again this week in Arizona, was dropped late in the first quarter on a blind-side hit from Hardy after rolling out of the pocket, stopping and setting his feet to throw.

Hardy had a running start when he hit Palmer in the lower back and was called for unnecessary roughness for leading with his head. Palmer left the game and missed the Raiders’ season finale the following week.

“I remember looking up on the big screen inside that stadium and it didn’t look too good,” Palmer said. “It looked good for him, bad for me.”

Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, who was with the Raiders the past four seasons, was uncertain whether it was a legal play.

“He rocked him. I don’t know if he hit him with the crown of the helmet. But just looking at it, it looked like a violent football play,” Mitchell said. “But the way they’re calling the game now, if it’s too hard they’re calling a penalty no matter where you hit him anyway.”

Hardy, coming off a three-sack game against the Giants, missed Wednesday’s practice after showing up at the stadium with a fever. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the training staff sent Hardy home with medicine and hopes to have him back Thursday.

CHASE THE LEADER AT LB: Rivera indicated he is sticking with Chase Blackburn as the starter at weakside linebacker. Blackburn started over veteran Jon Beason against the Giants, in part because of Blackburn’s knowledge of his former team.

But Rivera said Beason is still not 100 percent after injuries limited him to five games in 2011 and 2012. Beason said recently he’s still dealing with pain after microfracture surgery on his right knee last fall.

“We’re working them both. Right now Chase has got the lead, and I think a big part of it is Chase is a little more comfortable at it right now,” Rivera said. “I think Jon’s going to continue to work and get himself back to football shape. It’s been pretty much two years since he’s really had opportunities. So we’ll work with Chase, and Jon will get opportunities as well.”

BROWN OUT FOR CARDS: The Cardinals dealt left tackle Levi Brown to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for a conditional, late-round draft pick, according to reports. Brown, the No. 5 overall pick in 2007, started every game for Arizona from 2008-11 before sitting out last season with a triceps injury.

Bradley Sowell, a second-year player who was undrafted out of Mississippi, is expected to get his first career start against the Panthers in Brown’s former spot.

Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said he’d never heard of Sowell, but planned to watch tape of him this week.

“We’re going to see,” Johnson said. “Every guy steps up given an opportunity, so I’ll have to see what he’s like.”

After the Panthers sacked Eli Manning seven times two weeks ago, Johnson said he’s pleased to be going against another pocket passer in Palmer.

“He’s not as mobile as other quarterbacks we’ve been playing,” Johnson said. “Yeah, I love that.”

INJURY UPDATES: Cornerback Josh Thomas, sidelined for the Giants game with post-concussion symptoms, has his starting job back. But Rivera said he hasn’t forgotten about Drayton Florence and undrafted rookie Melvin White, both of whom played well in Thomas’ absence.

“Melvin White’s got to play. Drayton Florence’s got to play,” Rivera said. “We’ve got a good combination going there, and these guys have to have opportunities.”

Despite sitting out against the Giants and taking the bye week off, starting defensive tackle Dwan Edwards remains out with a hamstring injury.

“Big guys with (injuries to their) hamstrings is always a concern,” Rivera said. “They tend to not heal as quick, I guess.”

Rookie defensive tackle Kawann Short rolled his ankle during 1-on-1 drills Wednesday and was “hobbled” for the rest of practice, Rivera said. Defensive backs Quintin Mikell (ankle) and D.J. Moore (knee) remain out.

PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE: The Panthers signed former Browns wideout Cordell Roberson to the practice squad to replace running back Tauren Poole, who has a left knee injury. Roberson had four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown for Cleveland in the preseason, but was cut last week.

Poole, who led the Panthers in rushing during the preseason with 114 yards on 39 carries, is not eligible to return to the team’s practice squad or active roster this season.

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson
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