In the 11th hour of Sunday’s matchup against the Detroit Lions, the Carolina Panthers pulled a move that surprised many. They deactivated Pro-Bowl Defensive End Greg Hardy from the lineup in wake of what many would call the NFL’s worst week in their history. In the past two weeks, three domestic violence cases and a child neglect case surrounding some of the league’s best players has put a black eye on the shield that Roger Goodell has tried hard to protect since becoming commissioner 2006. It is still unsure whether or not Hardy will play on Sunday Night against the Steelers or if we'll ever see him in a Panthers uniform ever again, but there is light at the end of the tunnel--Mario Addison.
Addison, an undrafted four-year pro out of Troy University in Alabama, got the start last Sunday and played exceptionally well, recording 2.5 sacks and causing havoc for Matthew Stafford. If Hardy’s career is over in Carolina after this year, Addison’s career might be just getting started. While the “Hit-Stiq” bursted onto the spotlight Sunday, Addison has been a successful member on Special Teams and as a backup defensive end since coming to the Panthers in 2012. The organization liked him so much they gave him a two-year contract extension in June. While nobody is questioning how good Hardy is, he carries some conduct questions and will most certainly demand a hefty paycheck after being franchise tagged for 13.1 million dollars this past offseason. Addison showed Sunday that he can come in and can give a pro bowl effort without all the distractions and salary cap problems that Hardy presents.
The Panthers’ defense looked like they were on a completely different level than any other defense against a high powered offense with loaded weapons such Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, and Reggie Bush. Although we can’t say if the production would have been the same or different if Hardy was activated, we do know that if we can get that production out of the same lineup every week, that Hardy could be as good as gone from the Panthers organization.
Without a doubt Addison’s future is bright and has earned a starting role, if not with the Panthers than another team would be more than happy to load their lineup with a dynamic end. So, if Coach Ron Rivera deactivates Hardy for the rest of the season, fans shouldn’t worry because GM David Gettleman saw pro-bowl potential when other teams didn’t and resigned an important part of the future Panthers’ defense.