Panthers Notes: Cason, Hardy, Alexander

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has given cornerback Antoine Cason a number of second chances. It started when the talented defensive back was taken in the first round of the 2008 draft by the Chargers. Cason faced some early adversity, and Rivera, the team’s defensive coordinator at the time, was forced to make a tough decision.

“Quite honestly, I had to bench him,” Rivera told David Newton of

Cason worked his way up the depth chart and ultimately started 15 games in 2010, Rivera’s last season in San Diego. The 28-year-old played in a backup role with the Cardinals last season, and Rivera inked him to a one-year deal this offseason.

Cason rewarded his coach’s faith. He finished with an interception and a team-high nine tackles in the team’s opening-day victory.

“When I watched tape on him from the [Tampa] game I saw things I really liked and remembered,” Rivera said. “Just the way he was playing with vision, the position he put himself in on a couple of his snaps.”

Cason will have his work cut out for him this weekend against Lions wideout Calvin Johnson.

“He’s definitely one of the best receivers in this league,” Cason said. “You bring your A game, play physical at the point of attack and get after it.

“That’s every time out for me, something to prove, something to prove. Never get comfortable and never get satisfied with where I am.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes out of Charlotte…

  • Newton opines that the Panthers will not miss Steve Smith, even if the wideout continues to put up big numbers.
  • Newton also thinks that defensive end Greg Hardy will not return to the team if he is found guilty in his domestic violence case. Even if he’s cleared, Newton puts the odds of a return at 50-50. Room for Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly extensions would have to be taken into consideration, as well as Hardy’s expected monetary demands (the writer suggests $15MM).
  • With all the scrutiny surrounding Ray RiceMike Florio of writes that the Panthers need to make a decision on Hardy. The writer ultimately believes that Rivera should deactivate the player for this weekend’s game and then study all of the information available.
  • Based on the reported changes to the league drug policy, defensive end Frank Alexander will not have his four-game suspension reduced, tweets Joe Person of The Charlotte Observer.
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