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Carolina Panthers Latest News and Notes: Kuechly Honored; Nakamura Shut Down; Hardy Heckles Falcons Kicker

December 12th, 2012 at 10:38 PM
By Jesse Collin

Kuechly Named NFC Defensive Player of Week

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly is undoubtedly the brightest part of the Carolina Panthers' disappointing 4-9 season.

The ninth overall pick recorded 16 tackles in last Sunday's win against the Atlanta Falcons, propelling him to number one in the NFL with 130 stops on the season.

"It's cool," Kuechly told "It's one of those things where it's a team game. You get noticed because of the guys on your team. The guys on the defensive line did a great job of eating up guys up front and letting the linebackers run. It's cool, but we got the win and that's ultimately what matters."

Kuechly is the second defensive rookie to earn the weekly honor and the first Panther to win the award since Jon Beason in Week 16 of 2009.

Nakamura becomes 16th Panther on IR

Safety Haruki Nakamura was placed on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday after suffering a groin injury during the second half of last Sunday's game.

To replace the fifth-year pro on the active roster, the Panthers signed safety Anderson Russell from the practice squad.

Nakamura started all 13 games this year, recording 54 tackles and two interceptions.

Unfortunately, his first season with the Panthers will most likely be remembered by the unthinkable mistake he made against Atlanta in Week 4. Trailing by two with under a minute remaining in the game, the Falcons were backed up at their own 1-yard line with zero timeouts remaining. Nakamura allowed wide receiver Roddy White to get behind him and catch a 59-yard hail mary, which ultimately allowed Matt Bryant to kick the game-winning 40-yard field goal.

He is the 16th player to be placed on IR this season – two shy of the franchise record set in 2011.

Hardy makes fun of loud-mouthed Falcons kicker

In the video below (I posted yesterday as well), you can see defensive end Greg Hardy shouting "Get the f*ck off our field!" after the Panthers' 30-20 victory over Atlanta last Sunday.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan used the same obscenities after his team won the first matchup between the two rivals at the Georgia Dome.

In the video, you can also see Matt Bryant – the Falcons kicker of all people – telling Hardy to "Enjoy watching us in January."

Naturally, Hardy had a few things to say about the 37-year-old Bryant on Wednesday.

“I really didn't know who he was. He was so small and weird-shaped, I was trying to figure out what he did,” Hardy told the Charlotte Observer. “I found out when I looked online that he was a kicker. I was a little shocked.”

It's one thing if Matt Ryan, Roddy White or Michael Turner told Hardy to watch them in the playoffs, but Matt Bryant?

A kicker can't talk trash to anyone, except, well, maybe the punter.

Give me a break.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina, Carolina Panthers, Football, Greg Hardy, Haruki Nakamura, Luke Kuechly, NFL

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