The Carolina Panthers are getting linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Charles Johnson back this week, and for them, it’s just in time.
Ahead of Sunday’s game in Atlanta, both players – and both former Georgia Bulldogs – returned to practice from one-game and four-game suspensions, respectively.
“It really is great having Thomas and Charles out there,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “This is always a big game for them, both of them being from Georgia near Atlanta. They want to go out there and play, and play well.”
Davis was originally suspended two games for a hit on Green Bay receiver Davante Adams that landed Adams in the concussion protocol (in which he has stayed through Wednesday), but appealed and had it reduced to a single game. Johnson’s four-game suspension was enforced after the NFL found he had violated its performance-enhancing drug protocol.
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Johnson worked out in Miami during his suspension according to defensive end Wes Horton, and Rivera said the veteran appeared to return in good shape.
“He had a lot of energy, great enthusiasm out there,” said Rivera.
Horton added that Johnson seemed to be back with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.
“He wants to get back into this rotation and play at a high level,” he said. “He’s back, he’s ready, and he’s a veteran guy that brings a lot of experience. He’s a guy that we kind of lean on for a lot of years, so it’s good to get him back.”
The Panthers must make a roster move to make room for Johnson if they’d like him to play on Sunday. If he doesn’t play, they have a one-week exemption and don’t have to make a move until Monday.
Wide receivers Devin Funchess and Russell Shepard, and center Ryan Kalil were limited Wednesday with shoulder injuries, while guard Andrew Norwell and linebacker Spencer Paysinger were limited with ankle injuries.
Defensive end Mario Addison was limited with a hip injury for a second week, but he was able to play Sunday against Tampa and likely will again against Atlanta.
Guard Trai Turner practiced in a limited capacity as he progresses through the concussion protocol. Turner has missed the last two games.
Safety Kurt Coleman (ankle) and linebacker Shaq Thompson (plantar fasciitis) did not practice, while safety Mike Adams, running back Jonathan Stewart and defensive end Julius Peppers all took standard rest days.