CHARLOTTE – For the past few weeks, Dan Connor has been admiring the Panthers from afar.
"I've been following on TV because I've been sitting around on Sundays," the linebacker said with a laugh.
Now, Connor is back with the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
"I was shocked at the phone call but so excited to get an opportunity to come back here," Connor said. "The defense looks unbelievable. It's about as good as I've ever seen it. It's exciting to be around."
As for his role moving forward, Connor said he anticipates providing depth at linebacker and helping out on special teams.
He began the 2013 season as the starting middle linebacker for the New York Giants but suffered a neck injury in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve on September 12.
"It's been the most unique season I've ever had," Connor said. "Started the season as a starting linebacker for the Giants. I was feeling good all preseason and then got hurt. That was tough."
Once Connor returned to health, the Giants waived him on November 4.
"I didn't know what to expect," Connor said. "It worked out as good as it could have."
Connor spent the first four years of his career with Carolina, playing in 42 games with 19 starts. He then moved on to Dallas and played 14 games with eight starts for the Cowboys in 2012.
After a brief stint in New York, he returns to a Panthers team that is enjoying its longest winning streak since his rookie season, and there are still plenty of familiar faces to reunite with in the locker room.
"When I walked in I saw (Jordan) Gross, (Ryan) Kalil, Piggy (Geoff Hangartner), Travelle (Wharton). I haven't seen them in a while," Connor said. "Some have been here straight through, some left and came back. It's such a good locker room. It's the most fun I've had on any team. It's a comfortable situation for me."
ADDITIONAL MOVES: The Panthers have signed rookie offensive guard Travis Bond from the Minnesota Vikings practice squad. Bond was selected by the Vikings in the seventh round out of North Carolina.
Cornerback James Dockery has been placed on injured reserve with a left shoulder injury. Dockery played in five games in 2013, recording five tackles.
Lastly, the Panthers waived offensive guard Sione Fua. The move comes a week after Fua was moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard.
"Even though we really like who he is and who can become, the concern is if we ever got down to that third (offensive guard)," Rivera said. "We got down to the third guy a couple weeks ago, and that was Nate (Chandler).
"If we got into a situation like that, we are not quite sure; so we are going to put a guy on (the roster) that we believe can help us."