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Carolina Panthers reinstate Mary Hurney as interim general manager after NFL investigation clears him of harassment charge

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Marty Hurney on Friday was reinstated as the interim general manager of the Carolina Panthers after the NFL informed the team that a two-week investigation revealed no evidence that Hurney harassed his ex-wife.

He remains the front-runner to be named the full-time GM, according to a league source. An announcement could come Monday, if not sooner.

Hurney was placed on paid administrative leave three days after Jeanne Hurney filed the complaint in a Charlotte court on Feb. 2. The complaint was withdrawn four days later, but the NFL followed through with its own investigation under the personal conduct policy.

Former New York City sex crime prosecutor Lisa Friel headed the investigation.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the league reviewed all available law enforcement and court records and sworn testimony in prior proceedings in addition to interviewing Hurney and members of the Panthers.

“We also requested an interview with Mr. Hurney’s former wife, which was declined through her attorney,” McCarthy said. “Our investigation identified no evidence to support an allegation of domestic violence or similar conduct that would constitute a violation of the personal conduct policy.”

Kathleen Lucchesi, Hurney’s attorney, said it’s “been a very long two weeks for Marty and his family.”

Hurney has since remarried.

“In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to overcome suspicion, defend yourself and clear your name once the court of public opinion gets ahold of a false narrative,” Lucchesi said. “The public scrutiny can be devastating and unrelenting. In this case, it was also unnecessary.”

The Panthers also interviewed Buffalo assistant director of scouting Lake Dawson, Houston Texans assistant general manager Jimmy Raye III and Martin Mayhew, senior personnel executive with San Francisco, for the full-time general manager job.

All three are minority candidates, fulfilling the league’s rule that teams have to interview at least one minority candidate for general manager and head-coaching positions.

Dawson was brought in for a second interview.

But Hurney, who was named the interim GM the week before training camp after Dave Gettleman was fired, has been the front-runner throughout the process, according to sources.

The team had tentative plans to announce the new general manager two weeks ago before the allegations were made against Hurney but put them on hold while the NFL investigated.

Hurney’s ex-wife withdrew the complaint after the judge denied a temporary restraining order during an ex parte hearing in which only Jeanne and her attorney appeared.

Hurney informed the team of the complaint two days later, and the team informed the league office.

This all came about two months after the NFL opened an investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct by team owner Jerry Richardson. A December article in Sports Illustrated said at least four former employees were paid to keep quiet about allegations of sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur directed at a former team scout.

Lucchesi told ESPN.com at the time that the allegations against her client were “absolute fiction” and part of a continued trend of allegations since the Hurneys began divorce proceedings in 2013.

The divorce became official in January 2014.

On Friday, Lucchesi said how thankful her client was that the NFL conducted a “thorough investigation” and gave Hurney a chance to clear himself.

“He is also grateful for the continued confidence and support of the Panthers organization,” Lucchesi said. “Marty is looking forward to getting back to the work of building a strong and successful Panthers team for the 2018 season.”

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New Orleans Saints’ Michael Thomas ruled out vs. Green Bay Packers with ankle injury

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METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas won’t play in Sunday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers after he was ruled out for the second straight week with his high ankle sprain.

Thomas has not practiced since he suffered the ankle injury during the final minutes of New Orleans’ Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, the team chose not to place him on injured reserve — which would have required him to miss at least three games. So there is still hope that he could potentially return as soon as next week.

The Saints’ offense struggled without Thomas in Monday night’s 34-24 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, which led to scrutiny over Drew Brees’ lack of downfield passes.

Brees completed 26 of 38 passes for 312 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Third-year receiver Tre’Quan Smith caught five passes for 86 yards, but newly signed veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders had just once catch for 18 yards.

“Obviously with the loss of Mike Thomas last week, we’re having to fit some guys in new roles, get some guys some significant playing time, maybe in different situations that they haven’t been in before,” Brees said earlier this week. “I think there definitely is that element of just getting everybody on the same page, everybody in sync. And man, I’m confident with the guys that we have, with the system that we have and everything that we’re gonna be able to get back on track.”

Thomas is obviously vital to New Orleans’ offense. He won the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year award last season after setting the NFL record with 149 catches in a season.

Thomas isn’t the only star receiver who might be missing from Sunday night’s marquee matchup, however. Packers receiver Davante Adams is listed as doubtful after missing practice all week with a hamstring injury.

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Detroit Lions’ Kenny Golladay (hamstring) hopes to make debut vs. Arizona Cardinals

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The Detroit Lions seem to be closer to getting back their top wide receiver.

Kenny Golladay said he hopes to make his season debut against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. “God-willing, I’m going to try everything in my power to be out there with the guys,” Golladay said.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and said while he doesn’t feel 100 percent — he wouldn’t put a percentage on how healthy he is — he’s going to do everything he can and show enough to play against Arizona.

In three career games, Golladay has three touchdowns against Arizona.

Golladay, 26, said the injury has been frustrating, but that unlike his rookie year when he also had a hamstring injury, he listened to his body more this time around. He also said he understood his body more and wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any setbacks. So he listened to his trainers and didn’t push anything.

“Me missing a couple of games to try and be back hopefully for Week 3,” Golladay said. “That’s better than me missing six games.”

Detroit is getting healthier. In addition to Golladay, right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) is questionable but practiced all week. Cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) is doubtful, safety C.J. Moore (calf) is questionable and tight end Hunter Bryant (hamstring) is out.

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Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley finally set for season debut

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Outside linebacker Vic Beasley will make his debut for the Tennessee Titans on Sunday when they travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings.

Beasley has been dealing with a knee injury that limited him in practice for most of the previous two weeks. After working on a separate field with head coach Mike Vrabel, Beasley has been a full participant at practice since Thursday of last week.

The sixth-year linebacker signed a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Titans in March and took part in virtual meetings with the team during the offseason. But Beasley reported to camp 10 days late, an unexcused absence that resulted in a $500,000 fine.

“There was a little disagreement here and there, but those things are behind us. I have moved on and let bygones be bygones,” Beasley said Friday. “That’s something that we’ll keep confidential between me and the other party. What’s understood is understood. We came to an agreement, settled our differences and are both understanding of the situation. It’s all smiles on both ends, and we are happy to work together.”

Once Beasley got to camp he was placed on the non-football injury list. The Titans listed Beasley on the practice report with a knee injury. Beasley complimented the Titans’ training staff, calling it “amazing” and saying “they have been nothing but good” for him.

As a member of the Atlanta Falcons, Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2015. He finished with 8.5 sacks for the Falcons last season. A questionable work ethic and passion for the game reportedly led to Beasley becoming a free agent. But he feels he’s in the right place with the Titans.

“I’m excited getting to work with Vrabes, a guy who has the defensive perspective and actually played the same position that I did. That can only benefit me,” Beasley said. “I love the game. I wouldn’t waste nobody’s time if I didn’t love the game. I’m not going to give nobody half-hearted effort.”

Now that he is on the field, the Titans hope to get a boost in their pass rush that can help them reach the ultimate goal. Said Beasley, “Here, we are all on the same mission — that’s to win the Super Bowl.”

Wide receiver A.J. Brown was ruled out for Sunday’s game with a knee injury, while rookie running back Darrynton Evans is set to make his NFL debut.

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