DE Hardy says 3-9 Panthers better than Falcons

DE Hardy says 3-9 Panthers better than Falcons

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers' 3-9 record isn't keeping them from talking some trash leading up to their rematch with the division rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy said Wednesday the struggling Panthers are a ``better team'' than Atlanta.

Yes, better than the Falcons, who have clinched the NFC South division title and have the NFC's best record at 11-1. The Panthers, meanwhile, are coming off a loss to Kansas City, which had won only one game this season before Sunday.

When asked if he meant the Panthers were the better team on Sept. 30 when they lost 30-28 at Atlanta or better overall, Hardy replied, ``Both.''

Hardy said this Sunday's rematch is about ``payback'' and ``punishment.''

``We owe them something and it is coming,'' Hardy said. ``I'm trying to mess with their whole playoff experience. I want them to go home sick in the stomach and mad about life, a couple of depression issues, all types of things. It's going to be a long day from my point of view. I'm coming.''

Hardy, now a full-time starter in his third season with the Panthers, said he's not a big fan of the team's Interstate-85 rivals, calling the Falcons ``a little cocky.''

``I feel like they're not respectful,'' Hardy said.

Hardy is among several Carolina defensive players who felt disrespected by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan after television cameras caught him cursing as he shouted get off our field toward the Panthers sidelines in the final seconds of Atlanta's Week 4 win at the Georgia Dome.

Ryan's emotions were running high after the Falcons completed an improbable comeback against the Panthers. The Falcons were backed up on their own 1-yard with less than a minute to play and no timeouts in the last meeting.

But Ryan heaved a pass downfield for Roddy White to get the Falcons to midfield and a few plays later Matt Bryant booted a 40-yard field goal to give Atlanta the win.

An emotional Ryan left the field slapping high-fives and shouting as he made his way to the locker room.

``He said some harsh words man, so it's going to be a fight out there,'' cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said. ``He totally disrespected us. They won the game. They came all of the way back to beat us. But to say what he said, I don't think there was cause for it.''

Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson, who had 3 1/2 of Carolina's seven sacks against the Falcons in Week 4 said the Panthers saw the video tape of Ryan on the team bus after the game.

He said it's bothered him ever since.

Johnson said the Panthers have had this game marked on their calendar.

``Now he has to come into our house,'' Johnson said.

The Panthers, though, haven't been very good in their own house; they've lost five straight at home.

The Falcons had closed their media availability for the day prior to Hardy's comments and were unavailable for respond.

At one point Wednesday Hardy admitted the Falcons were a good team, but then returned to his rant.

``They have receivers that can catch, but they can be stopped. They have linemen that can block, but they can be beaten. They have a quarterback who is going to be on the ground because that's where he belongs,'' Hardy said. ``That's going to happen.''

Hardy also advised Ryan to get rid of the ball early and often on Sunday.

``He likes to hold the ball and that's something he should do when you're coming to play the Carolina Panthers because it's going to have repercussions,'' said Hardy, who has a career-high eight sacks on one forced fumble this season.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera coach said he hasn't seen the tape of Ryan's outburst from after the game and isn't sure if he'll be showing it to his players this week as motivation.

``Truthfully, if you want to do something about it (then) do it on the field,'' Rivera said. ``That's the way I look at it. Let's not talk about it, let's let our actions speak for us on the field.''

Quarterback Cam Newton is also anxious to gain a measure of respect on the Falcons as well, but for a completely different reason.

His late-game third-down run against his hometown team would have sealed Carolina's win had he not fumbled and the ball bounced back backward behind the first down marker.

Although Carolina recovered, the Panthers had to punt and the Falcons went on to score the go-ahead field goal.

``To back (Hardy) and defend him, there are a lot of things that haven't been true about our season so far,'' Newton said. ``We are a way better team than what our record is.''

Quick Links

John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

USA Today Sports Images

John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

John Wall crossed one of the biggest hurdles of his months-long recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery on Saturday by participating in his first full practice.

That means Wall went through 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates that included contact. He is free of restrictions.

Now it is only a matter of days before Wall is ready to return to game action.

"John did everything, he did an entire practice which was great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively."


Wall, who last played on Jan. 25 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed the Wizards' last 24 games. He has been absent for 35 of their 72 total games this season.

In the months he has been out, Wall has slowly worked his way to this point. He still has to get a few more practices under his belt before the Wizards can outline a target date for his return.

Wall was aggressive in testing his knee by attacking the basket, according to Brooks. Wall was moving around well and even lost a few pounds during his time off.

"He looks great and that's not easy with time off," Brooks said. "He will be back in no time."


The Wizards have gone 14-10 since Wall went down, an impressive mark especially considering how tough their schedule shook out. Most of those games came against teams with winning records either holding playoff spots or fighting for them.

The shine, though, is wearing off. They have lost two straight games and seven of their last 11. Their offense has stalled in recent defeats and it's become more and more clear they could use Wall's presence.

"He gives us that edge," Wall said. "When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket... I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don't have him around you definitely miss it."

While the Wizards continue to wait for Wall to return to games, just having him in practices helps. Brooks explained how guarding a player of Wall's caliber, a five-time All-Star, raises the intensity level of their scrimmages. If his teammates do not bring their best effort, Wall can very easily expose them.


There is also something intangible about Wall's presence. The media sees it once the doors open at practice. He is talkative and energetic on the court.

Some of his teammates even described him as "loud."

"Sometimes I tell him that he's a little too loud," guard Bradley Beal said. "But that's the energy that we've missed."

"He brings the juice. He brings the energy level up," Brooks said. "You miss his spirit. You miss the way he interacts with guys. He's fiery and competitive. He gets after guys. He cheers guys on. I like that. I like guys that show emotion and passion on the court."

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!