Bills' QB should beware of The Kraken

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A thick stack of towels sailed across the Carolina Panthers' locker room on Thursday and hit Greg Hardy in the chest as he tried to do an interview.

Instead of pitching a fit and throwing them back, or simply throwing them down, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive end who calls himself "The Kraken'' began passing them out to teammates.

"Mario, would you like a towel?'' Hardy told backup end Mario Addison in the friendliest of voices. "Frank [Alexander]? Anybody like an extra one?''

Versatility is a plus, whether it's handing out towels or knocking down quarterbacks.

And nobody on the Carolina defense is more versatile than Hardy, who played four different positions along the front line in Sunday's 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

He didn't have a sack, force a fumble or make any of the spectacular plays that get you on "SportsCenter." He was credited with only two solo tackles, not the kind of numbers one might expect from a player seeking a big contract extension.

But when it came to making an impact, Hardy came up big.

"His production was huge,'' coach Ron Rivera said. "He does a lot of those things that he may not get the credit for them he deserves.''

Hardy in many ways set the tone for Carolina's success against Seattle, and I wouldn't bet against him doing that again on Sunday at Buffalo.

That he didn't get a sack in the opener after suggesting during the preseason he would more than double the NFL single-season record with 50 didn't concern him. He did too many other good things.

"I feel great,'' Hardy said. "My thing in the game is dishing out punishment, hitting quarterbacks and getting them on the ground. That's how you get your momentum on the team. When you get the quarterback on the ground, have tipped balls, the guys rally around that.''

If the Bills don't account for Hardy, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel may be in for a long day. Hardy already is looking forward to the challenge the Bills' up-tempo offense presents.

"You can't get plays off that fast if you get hit in the mouth by Kraken all day,'' he said with a smile.

That Manuel has played only one NFL game makes no difference to Hardy. He'll approach him no different than he did Seattle's Russell Wilson or any veteran quarterback he faces.

"I'm going to go after his head,'' Hardy said.

Who knows. Maybe he'll offer up a towel, too.