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New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers: 8:40 p.m. Monday (ESPN)

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Dan Connor, back with Carolina Panthers, calls return to team ‘fate’

Dan Connor’s neck injury put him on the Giants’ injured reserve list in September, and after he started feeling better three weeks ago, he asked if he could be released in hopes of latching on with another team this year.

The linebacker called it fate that he re-joined the Carolina Panthers, the team that drafted him in 2008 and where he played for the first three seasons of his career.

“My last year here was coach (Ron) Rivera’s first year,” Connor said. “You see how much he wants it, and how he works and inspires guys. It’s nice to see it pay off, he and (defensive coordinator Sean) McDermott. And see the team play so well, and play with confidence. It’s great for the city of Charlotte. It’s fun for me to watch, even not being on Carolina earlier this season. Now that I’m here I have a chance to play for it, it’s really exciting.”

Rivera said the Panthers needed another linebacker on their roster, and with cornerback James Dockery needing shoulder surgery, Carolina moved him to IR to make room for Connor, who worked out for the team Tuesday and passed his physical prior to signing with Carolina.

“You want to make sure you have a guy with some veteran experience,” Rivera said. “Dan knows what we’re doing, he’s adapted very well, the guys in the locker room know him so it was natural for us.”

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