Dan Connor a good fit with Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dan Connor is a linebacker and not a soothsayer, but he saw the potential the Carolina Panthers are showing when he left after the 2011 season.

It started with coach Ron Rivera.

"My last year here was coach Rivera's first,'' said Connor, who signed with the Panthers (6-3) on Wednesday after being released injured by the New York Giants. "You could see something special about him.

"So to be a part of it now when there's some success, he deserves it and it's great to be here.''

The Panthers added Connor because they had a surplus of cornerbacks and needed depth at linebacker heading into Monday night's game against New England. Chase Blackburn is nursing a sore foot that forced him out of Sunday's 10-9 victory against the San Francisco 49ers and he hasn't practiced the past two days.

So Carolina put cornerback James Dockery on injured reserve with a torn labrum and brought back Connor, who had been put on season-ending injured reserve with a neck injury that the Panthers didn't see as an issue after his physical.

"Dan knows what we're doing, he's adapted very well,'' Rivera said. "The guys in the locker room know him. So it was a natural fit.''

The Panthers were 6-10 when Connor's contract expired after the 2011 season. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys, where he started eight games in 2012 before being released in March.

He's happy to be back, sharing that he texted his wife when the Cowboys played here a year ago and told her how much he missed it.

"I was here a couple of [lean] years,'' Connor said. "That's not easy to be in that locker room. To have a winning record, you can tell guys around here are feeling good.''