Nobody has ever questioned Dan Morgan's ability as a middle linebacker, but plenty have questioned his durability.
In five seasons with the Panthers, Morgan has yet to play a full 16-game season because of various injuries. That raised questions about whether the Panthers should have given Morgan a five-year, $25 million contract extension last off-season.
Last year, Morgan played most of the season with a severe shoulder injury that required him to wear a shoulder harness.
After the season he had surgery to repair the problem.
"I think some people realized what I was going through," Morgan said. "But for the most part, people didn't. I'm not one who is going to go out and toot my own horn and say, 'Hey, look at me, I'm playing hurt.' So I just went out and I played.
"I was hurt pretty much the whole last part of the season. After the Detroit game, I was hurt. I came back and played two weeks after that, but I had a dislocated shoulder. I mean, every hit I took felt like bee stings all over my shoulder. It wasn't a good feeling, but you know, that's the job. That's what we get paid for, to come out here and go through this stuff. It's a physical game."
Despite his accomplishments, which include one Pro Bowl appearance and a record 25 tackles in Super Bowl XXXVIII against New England, Morgan can't seem to get away from talking about injuries.
But he said he isn't hiding behind them.
"You know what? I'm not tired of talking about it," Morgan said. "It's stuff that happens and I deal with it. It's hard at times going through injuries, but I definitely feel like it makes you stronger as a person. If you come out here and you play through injuries, I think it definitely makes you stronger person on and off the field, dealing with those struggles. So I just feel like it's done nothing but made me stronger."
Morgan said he hasn't tried anything different this off-season in his physical preparation.
"If it were like injuries that I could prevent, I would do different things to try to get ready for a season," he said. "But dislocating a shoulder or getting a concussion, things like that you can't really prevent. Stuff like that is just what happens out there on the field. It's a physical game and not everything is going to go perfect for you. You've got to just keep fighting."
As for the surgically repaired shoulder, Morgan said, "It feels great now. I'm ready for a new season."
And, he hopes, a healthy one.