Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers DE Greg Hardy returns to team facilities, Twitter

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy has been more visible in the past week, but that doesn’t mean the chances of him playing this season are any better.

Hardy returned to the team facilities on Saturday for the first time since he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list in Week 3 of the NFL season. He’s also re-joined Twitter with a new account, where he’s engaging fans and showing off his new Bentley.

Hardy, who’s still awaiting a jury trial after being found guilty by a district court judge on domestic violence charges, visited with players and coaches before the team left Charlotte for Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon.

“He looks good. He looks like he’s fit and in shape,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “I had a chance to say hello and talk a little bit. It was a nice conversation. (He’s) trying to keep himself busy and waiting to see what his situation and circumstances are going to be.”

Rivera and Hardy had traded text messages since Hardy went on the exempt list, but Hardy had not been to the facilities since September.

As Carolina’s playoff hopes fade, Hardy’s legal situation remains the same. The Panthers have indicated they will not act until Hardy’s jury trial is complete. After it was pushed from Nov. 17 to early 2015, Hardy’s fate with the 2014 Panthers was sealed.

Hardy continues to work on his rap career, and he was involved with a music video, according to video posts on Instagram.

Last week he re-joined Twitter with the username @overlordkraken, referring to his “Kraken” nickname. Though he’s not a verified user, he’s taken several pictures of himself and posted them. His personal manager and best friend, Sammy Curtis, has tweeted it’s Hardy.

On Tuesday he tweeted a picture of his face with a piece of paper beside him. The paper read (all sic): “its me you slow bunnies your overlord of sacks.”

Injury update: Center Ryan Kalil and backup defensive end Kony Ealy missed practice Thursday with stomach illnesses and were sent home to recuperate.

Rivera didn’t indicate he had any concerns about Kalil’s availability for Sunday’s game at New Orleans, which is slated to be the first game in seven weeks in which the same offensive line has started in consecutive games.

Offensive lineman Amini Silatolu (knee) and running back DeAngelo Williams (hand) sat out a second consecutive practice, and it’s unlikely those two will play. Williams has trouble gripping the ball with a cast on his right hand. Jonathan Stewart will get the start at running back for Carolina.

Tight end Greg Olsen returned to practice after missing Wednesday with swelling in his knee. Rivera said Olsen looked “all right” in his return. Defensive end Mario Addison (knee) and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (ankle) also returned and participated in a limited capacity.

Boston preparing to start: Rookie safety Tre Boston is eyeing his second career start this week against a familiar opponent.

Boston, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, got his first start in Week 9 against the Saints when Thomas DeCoud sat out with a hamstring injury.

Boston allowed two catches for 45 yards in the loss to the Saints. He said this time he’ll be more comfortable after getting more reps under his belt.

“First time around I just think Drew Brees just ended up being Drew Brees,” Boston said. “We locked him down for a bit, but once you give the ball back to Drew Brees so many times, he’s going to execute. As an elite quarterback and a future Hall of Famer, you got to keep the ball out of his hands as much as you can. The second go around we have to do the same thing, play like we did the first half. Just hope to get people in his face and throw timing off and hope Drew Brees is human.”

Boston has been getting first-team reps at free safety ahead of the veteran DeCoud as the Panthers’ youth movement in the defensive backfield continues. Josh Norman and Bené Benwikere will start at cornerback and veteran Roman Harper will start at strong safety.

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