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Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX)

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Panthers’ Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy miss practice with knee issues

The Carolina Panthers were missing both starting defensive ends Thursday, and only one of them is expected to be back for Sunday’s game at Miami.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Charles Johnson “more than likely” will miss the game against the Dolphins after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on a leg whip by New England offensive tackle Marcus Cannon in the third quarter Monday night.

Greg Hardy’s knee issue does not appear to be as serious. Hardy participated in the team’s morning walkthrough Thursday, but complained of soreness in his knee and was held out of practice.

Rivera said it was a precautionary measure.

“He had a sore knee. We decided to give him the time off,” Rivera said. “Didn’t want him out on the field, just stay off it. Let him rest.”

Johnson, who is second in the NFC with 8.5 sacks, has been described as being week-to-week and could miss multiple games. Panthers right guard Chris Scott, who sprained his knee in the Atlanta game Nov. 3, has been sidelined for two games and has yet to practice this week.

Tight end Ben Hartsock, who also has a knee sprain, missed Monday’s game against the Patriots and has not practiced this week.

Rivera said he was discouraged Johnson, who was on crutches Wednesday, didn’t make it to the practice field Thursday.

“We’ll see how he is (Friday) morning. But he has gotten better each day. That much I appreciate,” Rivera said. “But you’d like to have guys out (at practice) as soon as possible and go from there.”

Coaches continue to evaluate young defensive ends Wes Horton, Mario Addison and Frank Alexander.

Rivera said the Panthers might use a situational platoon at Johnson’s defensive end spot against the Dolphins. Horton is a stout run defender, Addison is a talented edge rusher, and Alexander has good athleticism, Rivera said.

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