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Panthers’ Charles Johnson expected to test knee Wednesday

PANTHERS_PATRIOTS_07
Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
The status of Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. Johnson missed Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins with a sprained knee.

After missing his first game since the 2011 season finale, Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson is expected to be back on the practice field Wednesday.

Rivera, ever the optimist on his players’ injuries, said he wants to see how Johnson reacts to Wednesday’s practice before making a determination on his status for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers.

Johnson, who has 8.5 sacks this season, suffered a sprained MCL when he was leg-whipped during the Monday night game against New England on Nov. 18. He did not practice last week or travel with the team to Miami.

“Wednesday will be a big day for us, then we’ll see Thursday where he is,” Rivera said. “If he’s really sore then it won’t be as rosy an outlook as I’d hope. And then we’ll see. Again, we’re going to be smart. It really is about going forward, because we have an opportunity to go forward.”

The Panthers struggled to contain Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill inside the pocket at times during the game. Mario Addison started in place of Johnson and finished with one sack and four quarterback hits in 33 snaps. Frank Alexander got 35 snaps and recorded three tackles.

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