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Friday, May 16, 2014
Panthers turn focus from Hardy to rookies

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers begin a two-day rookie camp on Friday, but the focus may not be on the field. Coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman still haven't commented publicly on Tuesday's arrest of Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy on charges of domestic violence and how it could impact Hardy's future with the team.

Players still haven't publicly reacted to the incident that took a new twist on Thursday when court documents revealed, according to statements given by girlfriend Nicole Holder, that Hardy "just snapped" because of her short-lived relationship with rapper Nelly.

Second-round draft pick Kony Ealy, a defensive end out of Missouri, will have a larger spotlight on him now simply because he plays the same position as Hardy.

Beyond all that, this will be the first opportunity for first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin to show Carolina coaches why the wide receiver out of Florida State deserved to be the 28th overall pick.

It will be a chance for third-round draft pick Trai Turner, a guard out of LSU, to show why he deserves a chance to compete for a starting position.

It will be the first step for all six draft picks, nine undrafted rookies, a few hand-picked qualifying players from the current roster and 25 to 35 invited tryouts to make an impression.

That Hardy, released Wednesday on a $17,000 bond, won't be there will make what has happened in court less of a distraction.

But there are sure to be more television news crews and media in general attending a rookie camp that often draws little attention.

This will be the first step for the Panthers to show how they'll handle the distraction moving forward.