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Panthers' Rucker savors comeback after knee surgery

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CHARLOTTE (AP) -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker is relishing his comeback from knee surgery. The nine-year veteran didn't know if he would play again after he was hurt late last year. The 32-year-old Rucker says talking with team owner Jerry Richardson and veterans Mike Minter and John Kasay after he was hurt convinced him to put in the seven-month rehab effort. Rucker took a pay cut to help with the Panthers salary cap. He is second in franchise history with 544 tackles. Rucker isn't sure if he'll retire after this season or try to play one more year. He and his family are settled in Charlotte and he doesn't want to play for another team. He was invited yesterday by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to go to Afghanistan in the offseason to meet U.S. troops. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)