Patriots will try to stop Greg Hardy in DL’s Dallas debut
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Greg Hardy’s mouth is preceding his production.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive end will return to the field on Sunday after serving a four-game suspension for roughing up his former girlfriend. His first opponent: The defending NFL champion New England Patriots, who are 3-0 under reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady.
And Hardy is looking forward to it.
”I love seeing Tom Brady.” Hardy said this week, turning then to Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
”Have you seen his wife?” Hardy said. ”I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys.”
Asked about Hardy’s comments on Wednesday, Brady said he’s more worried about what Hardy can do on the field than with his comments.
”I’m just getting ready to play, man,” Brady said. ”They count on getting pressure from their front four getting to the quarterback, so I don’t really care about his personal feelings.”
Hardy has not played since Carolina Panthers’ 2014 opener, where he played his first five seasons. He spent the rest of last season in limbo waiting for his domestic violence case to make its way through the legal system.
The 27-year-old defensive end was accused of choking and pushing his ex-girlfriend and throwing her on a futon that had at least four semi-automatic rifles on it. He was convicted by a judge, but before his appeal could be heard the charges were dropped because the victim could not be located to testify in a jury trial.
The Cowboys signed Hardy to a one-year, $13.1 million contract. But they had to wait for him to serve his suspension, which was cut from 10 games to four by an arbitrator.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett said he thinks Hardy is just excited to play again and didn’t mean anything bad by his comments.
”Sometimes things come out of your mouth when you are excited,” the coach said. ”I think he has an understanding that it is more important to define yourself as a player more than anything else. I think he will learn from those comments and the reaction to them.”
For the Patriots, the problem is preparing for a player who has been one of the league’s top pass-rushers without any regular season tape of him with his current team. (Hardy did participate in the offseason program and training camp and played in three of the four preseason games.)
”We know him from Carolina. He’s a handful,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ”You can see him in the preseason, so there is definitely something to work with there. … 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.”
The Patriots have not played the Cowboys since 2011, and they have never played in Dallas’ new stadium, which opened in 2009. But New England faced Hardy in 2013, when Hardy sacked Brady once in the first quarter of Carolina’s 24-20 victory.
Brady said Hardy was a ”dynamic” player, and he noted that Dallas will also be getting back Rolando McClain, who was suspended four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
”So they’ve got a couple of them back this week,” Brady said. ”It’s a good defense anyway, so I’m sure having those two guys back will help a lot.”
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