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Panthers’ Charles Johnson says he will play against Falcons

PANTHERS_BUCS_51
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers (95) defensive end Charles Johnson is helped off the field after being injured in the last moments of fourth quarter action vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fl. on Thursday, October 24, 2013. The Panthers defeated the Buccaneers 31-13.

More Information

  • Panthers schedule

    7SEATTLE12

    23at Buffalo24

    38N.Y. GIANTS0

    6At Arizona22

    35at Minnesota10

    30ST. LOUIS15

    31at Tampa Bay13

    SundayATLANTA, 1 p.m.

    Nov. 10at San Francisco, 4:05 p.m.

    Nov. 18NEW ENGLAND, 8:40 p.m.

    Nov. 24at Miami, 1 p.m.*

    Dec. 1TAMPA BAY, 1 p.m.*

    Dec. 8at new Orleans, 1 p.m.*

    Dec. 15N.Y. JETS, 4:05 p.m.*

    Dec. 22NEW ORLEANS, 1 p.m.*

    Dec. 29at Atlanta, 1 p.m.*

    * subject to change



While his teammates left town or took a few day off, Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said he spent "all weekend" receiving treatment on his strained right groin.

And though he's still experiencing soreness, Johnson said Monday he believes he is "definitely" going to play Sunday against his home-state Atlanta Falcons.

"I feel like 100 percent I'm going to be on the field," Johnson said.

The Panthers did not practice Monday, but Johnson participated in the walk-through. He said of his weekend: "I wasn't hobbling, but it was sore."

Johnson, who leads the Panthers with six sacks, was injured with 1:08 remaining in the Panthers' 31-13 win at Tampa Bay last week.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera wasn't ready to pronounce Johnson ready to play so early in the week, but sounded optimistic.

"He had a pretty good day of rehab (Monday), and I was excited about that," Rivera said.

Johnson, who grew up in Georgia and went to the University of Georgia, said the two games every year against the Falcons are special.

 "You always get up for anybody," Johnson said. "But Atlanta? There's just a little extra sauce on it."

Johnson's best individual game came against the Falcons in 2012, when he sacked Matt Ryan a team-record 3.5 times in a game the Panthers lost on a last-second field goal.

NO UPDATE ON STEWART: Rivera said the team continues to evaluate running back Jonathan Stewart, who practiced last week for the first time since November. Stewart, who had surgeries on both ankles during the offseason, remains on the physically unable to perform list.

The Panthers have two weeks to activate him or he'll remain on the PUP list the rest of the season.

"We've got time on that. So we'll just continue to work him. He had a good day of work," Rivera said. "It's good to see him moving around, getting involved in the individual periods like he was. I am optimistic."

Rivera said leading rusher DeAngelo Williams, who sustained a bruised quad in the second half against Tampa Bay, also had a good day.

EDWARDS FEELING BETTER: Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, expressed confidence he'll play against the Falcons.

"It's definitely the best it's felt in a few weeks. I'm looking forward to getting on the field. It's been a long time coming," Edwards said. "Barring no setbacks this week, I'd give myself about a 100 percent chance of being out there."

Edwards had six sacks for the Panthers last year after he was released by Buffalo in the final round of roster cuts. He signed a two-year extension to stay with the Panthers, who beefed up their interior by drafting defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short with their first two picks.

"We've been playing well," Edwards said. "So hopefully just add another player to go in there and make some stuff happen. (With) more of a rotation to keep guys fresh, I think we'll be sitting right where we need to be."

SCOTT FOWLER CONTRIBUTED.

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