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Charlotte, N.C. — Quarterback Cam Newton said Monday embattled Panthers owner Jerry Richardson should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Richardson is under investigation by the NFL for sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace and announced Sunday that he’s selling the team just hours after a Sports Illustrated report detailed his alleged misconduct.

The NFL has not commented on the ongoing investigation.

Newton said Richardson met with him and other team captains at Bank of America Stadium Sunday night — hours after Carolina’s 31-24 win over the Green Bay Packers — to inform them he would be putting the team up for sale after the season.

The QB says while he disagrees with any type of sexual misconduct, he has immense respect for Richardson based on their 71/2-year relationship.

“Everything that I heard were allegations and nothing was actually proven,” Newton said.

“It’s another person’s words against another person’s words. Needless to say I still think extremely highly of Mr. Richardson. I don’t know none of the sources names that have come out, so I am reaching to find it. But I take sexual assault extremely seriously — and I don’t want to offend anyone — but having a lot of allegations thrown at a person, I don’t think that is really fair.”

The Sports Illustrated story cited unnamed sources who said Richardson made sexually suggestive comments to women and on at least one occasion directed a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout. The report states that the settlements came with non-disclosure requirements to at least four former employees forbidding the parties from discussing the details.

Elliott’s back

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t want to talk about his six weeks away from the Cowboys now that he’s back from a suspension over domestic violence allegations.

Elliott abruptly ended his first session with reporters after 70 seconds Wednesday. He said he wouldn’t address questions about a hiatus spent mostly in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, but was asked anyway.

After five questions on that topic, Elliott said, “All right, I’m done.”

The Cowboys went 3-3 without last year’s NFL rushing leader, losing the first three before the current three-game winning streak that has kept them alive in the NFC wild-card race. Dallas must win its final two games, starting Sunday at home against Seattle, and get help from several teams.

In his only answer of substance, Elliott thanked the Dallas organization, his family and the fans “for just supporting me through the time.”

Personnel dept.

Tampa Bay rookie tight end O.J. Howard and four other players have been placed on injured reserve and will miss the final two games of the season. The injury-depleted Bucs (4-10) also placed rookie safety Justin Evans (ankle), linebacker Adarius Glanton (broken leg), cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (hamstring) and guard J.R. Sweezy (lower leg) on IR.

... Dolphins tight end Julius Thomas and guard Jermon Bushrod have been placed on injured reserve and will miss the final two games.

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