Carolina Panthers safety Roman Harper suffered an injury to his right eye in the first half of the NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals and did not return. However, he has been cleared to return to the field.
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Harper Active vs. Broncos
Sunday, Feb. 7
Harper Provides Vital Leadership Role to Panthers
In his 10th year in the league and his second with the Panthers, Harper did not intercept a pass for the first time since 2011 despite starting all 16 games this season. He did have five passes defended and two fumble recoveries.
Carolina head coach Ron Rivera praised Harper before the season began, per Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer: "He’s done a great job, and he’s been the leader we’ve hoped for."
His veteran leadership has helped foster a winning attitude in Carolina. He won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, and in an article he penned in December for Sports Illustrated's MMQB, he proved the team's ultimate goal is what he's focused on most.
"We may not go 16-0, but it’s what happens [at the Super Bowl] in Santa Clara in February that matters," Harper wrote.
His leadership transitions well to the field. In the past three seasons prior to 2015, he intercepted seven passes, forced a fumble, recovered two and scored a touchdown. He was a Pro Bowler in 2009 and 2010.
Prior to this injury he had been relatively healthy over his career, playing in and starting all 16 games six times.