BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A month ago the Pittsburgh Steelers gave up on Greg Lloyd. It may have been premature.
The 33-year-old linebacker was released by the Steelers, after a pair of injury-plagued seasons, and signed by the Carolina Panthers to a one-year, incentive-laden contract just nine days later.
He has already registered his first sack of the preseason and is starting to regain his early 1990s form which made him one of the NFL's most feared players.
Lloyd sustained a torn tendon in his knee in the first game of 1996 which ended his season. Last November, Lloyd injured his ankle in Philadelphia and then developed a staph infection that put his career -- and life -- in jeopardy.
He said people still don't realize the seriousness of what he went through.
"I don't really care if I'm still limping," Lloyd said after the Panthers 12-7 win over Buffalo on Friday. "I guess if you're limping, people say that it's a sign of weakness. It gets stiff, but I still manage to play through it. I guess nobody really notices the severity of this and that it was a life-threatening thing."
Lloyd took antibiotics intravenously at the end of 1997 for six weeks in order to fight the infection.
"The infection spread up the body and his leg swelled up," Lloyd's agent, Dick Bell, told the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. "Staph infections can kill you, period. We're not talking about the next ballgame, we're talking about life."
Lloyd has played 13 games over the past two seasons, with only 4 1/2 sacks. He is fourth on the Pittsburgh's career list with 50 sacks and made the Pro Bowl each season from 1991-95.
Lloyd has rejoined former Steelers teammate Kevin Greene in Carolina and has been starting at right outside linebacker while last year's starter, Lamar Lathon, is recovering from offseason knee surgery.
"I think Greg is doing better and better each day," said Greene. "He'll be 100 percent by the time the regular seasons starts. He'll be fine."
The pair helped hold the new-look Buffalo Bills offense, which features quarterback Rob Johnson and fullback Sam Gash, to just seven points.
"Defense wins games and that was evident on the field tonight," said Lloyd. "Guys were just relentless in adverse situations. The win is good, but the way we played is what's important."
The 6-2, 235-pounder played the entire half against Buffalo and has yet to miss a practice since signing with the Panthers.
"I've been out there enduring and persevering and that's all I can do as a person," Lloyd said. "If I get in a situation where I feel that I can't play, I'm man enough to say `I can't do it today', but that hasn't happened yet."
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