Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said he thinks he could have come back before the mandatory eight-game absence, but he’s just happy to be back now.
Johnson, who suffered a hamstring injury in Week 3, is back on the active roster after spending eight weeks on temporary injured reserve.
“I thought I could (come back sooner) but at the same time these eight weeks helped me get my leg stronger and I feel like I’m 100 percent,” Johnson said.
“It was frustrating at first, but when you’re winning that makes a lot of things easier. I just tried to maintain my poise and just know that week by week I’m going to keep getting better and stronger. At the end of the day, all I could do was sit there and wait.”
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It’s unclear whether Johnson will start Thursday against the Cowboys. Kony Ealy has been starting at right defensive end and has four sacks in the past four games and Jared Allen, the NFL’s leader in sacks among active players, has started at left defensive end.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera is targeting no more than 30 snaps for Johnson in his return, but Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has been in the league long enough to know what that looks like.
“He’s a dynamic player. I’m sure they’ll count the number of snaps,” Romo said. “Usually when a guy comes back you’ll try to play him 20 or 30 snaps. Somehow those guys find a way of playing 45 or 50. But I think they’ll try to be smart with him. He’ll be disruptive and we’ll have a plan for him if he’s out there.”