This week marks the second time during Cam Newtons professional career that he has been on an injury report.
But the quarterback said Thursday his ankle injury isnt even worth writing about.
How it feels right now, it wont even make for enough ink for a story, Newton said. Whether its feeling great right now, feeling bad right now, come Sunday it will be at high-octane performance.
Newton, who is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, injured his ankle last weekend during the 17-13 win against New Orleans, calling the injury a nicked ankle while coach Ron Rivera said he tweaked it. He walked gingerly after the game inside the locker room, and he has received treatment for the injury throughout the week.
He participated fully in Thursdays practice, though he admitted hes not at 100 percent entering the regular-season finale at Atlanta.
Its a day-to-day process, and Im trying to get it healed up and mended up and be 100 percent come game day, Newton said.
When asked if it would affect his mobility, he said it shouldnt, and it also wouldnt affect his mentality.
Newtons only other injury report appearance came during his 2011 rookie season when he had soreness in his shoulder. The Panthers added him to the injury report late in the week as probable.
Johnson looking to get going: In three games since returning from a sprained knee, defensive end Charles Johnson has made six tackles and shared a sack against New Orleans Drew Brees that resulted in no lost yardage.
Johnson, injured when New England right tackle Marcus Cannon leg-whipped during a Monday night game Nov. 18, said his right knee remains less than 100 percent but is getting stronger.
Thats not an excuse for me not to be playing the way that I play. So Im not using that as an excuse at all, Johnson said. Im steady trying to grind, steady trying to help my team out the best way I can.
Rivera said Johnsons conditioning has been more of a factor than the knee. In addition to the two weeks he missed, Johnson spent a third trying to get ready to play Dec. 8 at New Orleans, Rivera said.
Hes played well at times, Rivera said. Now its time for him to play consistently well.
Johnson, a Georgia native, collected a team-record 3.5 sacks in the 30-28 loss Sept. 30, 2012 at Atlanta. Rivera expects him to have another big game at the Georgia Dome, where Johnson played in high school in the state playoffs and at college in the SEC championship game and the Sugar Bowl when the 2006 game was held in Atlanta after Hurricane Katrina.
Its just a hype game, going back home, Johnson said. Anybody would be hype about going back home and playing in front of their people.
Spoiler alert: A victory Sunday for the Falcons would mean sending tight end Tony Gonzalez out with a win, but it also would mean potentially spoiling the Panthers playoff picture.
Atlanta, Carolinas NFC South rival, could send the Panthers from a top-two seed to a wild-card spot, making them go on the road in the playoffs as opposed to getting a first-round bye and at least one home game.
Wide receiver Roddy White said both are motivating factors.
We all want Tony to win, this is going to be his last game, so we want to go out there with a victory for Tony, White said during a teleconference. Well be playing at home, so everybody will be excited. Then we just get to shake up the bracket in the playoffs, so that will also be a good thing. Well be excited to go out there and play and shake up some things in the NFC.
Theyve handled business on their home field and theyve beaten us twice in a row. So, weve got to stop this winning streak that they have against us. So itll be really good. The end of the season, and hopefully send those guys on the road.
The Panthers won their Nov. 3 contest against Atlanta 34-10, and last season the Panthers played the spoiler to the Falcons. Atlanta entered with an 11-1 record and left after a 30-20 loss at Bank of America Stadium.
But those two games arent reflective of Carolinas recent history with the Falcons. The Panthers have lost seven of the past 10 in the series and havent won at the Georgia Dome since sept. 3, 2007.
But the 11-4 Panthers arent taking the 4-11 Falcons lightly.
Its a big game for this just like its a big game for us, Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy said. They dont want to stop playing and have that message spread about you that youre a quitter and youre a team that decided to go home. And then you know its (Gonzalezs) last game.
Hes a tight end to me, a Hall of Famer to you. Im a player. Theyre going to come out in full effect with all they got so were going to treat them like theyre any other team.
White said he and his teammates signed up to play 16 games this season, and they arent packing it up a game early to do the Panthers any favors just like they didnt in Mondays last-minute loss at San Francisco.
I would never expect a Mike Smith-coached team to do that, Rivera said. So I expected them to play the way they did (against San Francisco) and I expect them to come out and play the same way against us.
Post-holiday practice: A day after getting Christmas off, the Panthers resumed preparations for the Falcons with a two-hour practice Thursday. Rivera though his teams focus was outstanding.
Three starters sat out with injuries receiver Steve Smith (knee), running back Jonathan Stewart (knee) and defensive tackle Colin Cole. None is expected to play Sunday, although Rivera said the team would continue to monitor the players progress.
Smith hasnt missed a game since the 2010 finale at Atlanta, when he was sidelined with a calf strain. Rivera said the reps among receivers Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr. and Domenik Hixon would be shared based on personnel groupings and matchups.
Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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