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Panthers continue veteran purge, release FB Hoover

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers added to their purge of veterans Monday with the release of longtime fullback Brad Hoover, leaving the team with just three players on the roster older than 30.

Letting 33-year-old Hoover go saves the Panthers close to $1 million in payroll for the 2010 season and ends his 10-year stay with Carolina.


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"I want to thank the organization for 10 great years and the fans that supported me," Hoover said in a statement released by his agent, Tim Irwin. "I leave with a heavy heart, but I will be trying to play somewhere else."

The Panthers likely will turn to second-year pro Tony Fiammetta as Hoover's replacement as they rapidly grow younger and thriftier.

Hoover's release comes during a one-week stretch when the Panthers let defensive end Julius Peppers leave in free agency, then cut quarterback Jake Delhomme, defensive tackles Damione Lewis and Maake Kemoeatu, and linebackers Na'il Diggs and Landon Johnson.

The only players not in their 20s left on the team are kicker John Kasay (40), punter Jason Baker (31) and wide receiver Steve Smith (30). The moves also knock millions off the Panthers' payroll during an uncapped year, yet the team hasn't signed any players since free agency began Friday.

While not at the level of Delhomme's teary farewell Friday, Hoover was a fan favorite who rose from obscure to one of the NFL's top blockers. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart continually credited Hoover last season when they became the first set of running backs since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to each rush for over 1,100 yards.

Signed as an undrafted rookie out of Western Carolina in 2000, the Thomasville, N.C., native also was a key special-teams player. His 152 games played with Carolina rank behind only Kasay (204) and wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad (154).

"Brad has been here since I arrived in Carolina," Panthers coach John Fox said in a statement released by the team. "When things were difficult, he was a leader and someone both players and coaches knew would always be accountable. On the field, he was the ultimate competitor and set a physical tone in both his style of play and attitude."

Irwin said he talked with one team and believes Hoover will find work.

"It wasn't his choice," Irwin said of the Panthers releasing Hoover. "I think Brad has some football left in him."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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