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Panthers continue veteran purge, release FB Hoover

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

The Panthers added to their purge of veterans on Monday with the release of longtime fullback Brad Hoover, leaving Carolina with only three players on the roster older than 30.

Letting 33-year-old Hoover go saves the Panthers close to $1 million in payroll for the 2010 season and ends his 10-year stay in Carolina.

``I have no regrets. It's been a great 10 years in Carolina and I'm very thankful that they gave me that opportunity,'' Hoover said. ``I look forward to the opportunities in front of me. I still want to play football.''

The Panthers will likely turn to second-year pro Tony Fiammetta as his replacement as they rapidly get younger and thriftier.

Hoover's release comes in a one-week stretch where the Panthers let defensive end Julius Peppers leave in free agency, then cut quarterback Jake Delhomme, defensive tackles Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu, and linebackers Na'il Diggs and Landon Johnson.

The only players not in their 20s left on the team are kicker John Kasay (40), punter Jason Baker (31) and receiver Steve Smith (30). The moves also knock millions off the payroll in an uncapped year, but the Panthers have done little in free agency.

The Panthers' first signing came later Monday, when they inked receiver Wallace Wright, who was mostly a special teams player the past four seasons with the New York Jets.

While not at the level of Delhomme's teary farewell on Friday, Hoover was a fan favorite who rose from obscurity to one of the league's top blockers. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart continually credited Hoover last season when they became the first set of running backs since the 1970 merger to each rush for over 1,100 yards.

Signed as an undrafted rookie out of Western Carolina in 2000, the Thomasville, N.C., native was also a key special teams player. His 152 games played with Carolina rank behind only Kasay (204) and receiver Muhsin Muhammad (154).

``Brad has been here since I arrived in Carolina,'' coach John Fox said in a statement. ``When things were difficult he was a leader and someone both players and coaches knew would always be accountable.

``On the field, he was the ultimate competitor and set a physical tone in both his style of play and attitude.''

Hoover's agent, Tim Irwin, said he talked with one team and believes Hoover will find work.

``It's uncharted waters. I've never been cut before and have stayed with one organization,'' Hoover said. ``But I think eventually I will be playing football again.''

Wright grew up in Fayetteville, N.C., and started as a walk-on at North Carolina. He had just eight catches for 108 yards in his career with the Jets, but has 73 special teams tackles in 53 games.

Tagged: Panthers, Brad Hoover, Jake Delhomme, John Kasay, Jets, Wallace Wright

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