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Saturday, August 23, 2014
Panthers DE Hardy: 'We have work to do'

By David Newton

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was asked to find a positive after Friday night's 30-7 exhibition loss at the New England Patriots.

"That it is a preseason game," he said.

The 2013 Pro Bowl selection then was asked about the team's performance.

"It should have been better," he said. "I can’t answer [why it wasn’t], but I know we have work to do. It was embarrassing and that is not what we are about.”

Hardy was right on both counts. It was a preseason game, so it's not time to push the panic button. It also was an embarrassment for a team that obviously still has many questions remaining two weeks before the start of the regular season.

Coach Ron Rivers used the word consistent -- or a form of it -- 10 times in answering his first three questions. He used the word disappointment another three times.

"We were not consistent and we expect to be a playoff team and we need to be consistent," Rivera said.

The Panthers didn't look like a playoff team. They didn't protect their franchise quarterback, Cam Newton, who was sacked three times in the first half and at one point left the game with what has been called a back contusion.

The defense that led the league in sacks (60) last season didn't lay a hand on Tom Brady or any of the other New England quarterbacks. Brady completed 17 of 21 pass attempts for 204 yards and a rating of 138.9. The best you can do is 158.3.

X-rays on Newton's back proved negative, but the last thing the quarterback recovering from offseason ankle surgery needed was another ailment. Newton apparently was so disappointed that he dressed quickly (he never does that) and got on the bus without doing interviews (he seldom does that, either).

The performance was so bad that Rivera, who traditionally sits most of his starters in the last exhibition, already has said Newton and others will play on Thursday night at Pittsburgh.

"You know, to me it is very evident that we’ve got to get them out there," he said.

As bad as it looked, there were a few positives. Let's take a look: