“He’s a dynamic player,” Belichick said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. “We know him from Carolina. He’s a handful.”
Belichick, of course, was talking about Hardy’s on-field impact when describing him as “a handful.” But the Patriots head coach could have been referring to Hardy’s off-the-field antics and still been accurate.
Hardy, who signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys over the offseason after spending his first five seasons with the Carolina Panthers, missed all but one game last season. He was placed on the exempt list after being found guilty of assaulting a female and communicating threats.
The NFL then suspended Hardy for the first 10 games of this season following an investigation into his domestic abuse, though the suspension later was reduced to four games, which explains why he’ll be active for Sunday’s Week 5 game against the Patriots.
It doesn’t sound like Hardy’s too apologetic about the whole thing, either. He mentioned Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, while talking with reporters Wednesday. And he suggested he’s ready to come out “guns blazing,” which is a poor choice of words based on the details of his domestic abuse charge.
But nonetheless, Hardy is an excellent football player. So yes, as Belichick put it, he will be “a handful” come Sunday. And preparing for Hardy, who totaled a career-high 15 sacks with Carolina during the 2013 campaign, could be even more difficult this week given the lack of recent film with which to work.
“Well, you can see him in the preseason, so there is definitely something to work with there,” Belichick said. “He is who he is. He’s got his height, his athletic ability, so certainly that’s going to carry over at that position a little bit. But the scheme is different and some of the things that he does are a little different, and we can see some of those in preseason.”
Hardy’s return should boost Dallas’ defense. New England’s O-line will be the first unit tested.