The Carolina Panthers’ situation at cornerback has reached the level of gallows humor, with folks at Bank of America Stadium joking about bubble-wrapping the defensive backs.
Friday was another good news/bad news day for the Panthers in continuing quest to find stability post-Josh Norman.
While coaches liked the progress of nickel back Leonard Johnson enough to activate him from the non-football injury list, the reason they had a roster spot for him was the knee injury that sent corner Teddy Williams to injured reserve.
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The moves were the 18th and 19th transactions involving cornerbacks since general manager Dave Gettleman pulled the franchise tag from Norman on April 20, freeing one of the league’s top cornerbacks to sign with Washington the same week.
James Bradberry – the player the Panthers drafted in the second round to take over for Norman – also fell into the good news category Friday. Bradberry endured his biggest workload since injuring his toe at Atlanta on Oct. 2 and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. Arizona (1 p.m., FOX).
“If he continues to feel stronger every day, then that’s a huge plus for us,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We really won’t know until (Saturday) morning because this was probably the biggest load he had. They’re trying some different things with his shoes too to help give it some support. Hopefully he felt comfortable in it and there’s no residual effect.”
Rivera said Johnson is “ready to roll” after his first full week of practice following offseason Achilles surgery. Rivera said the former Tampa Bay defensive back would start at nickel against the Cardinals, although linebacker Shaq Thompson played the nickel extensively against Arizona slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the NFC Championship Game in January.
Meanwhile, first-round pick Vernon Butler will miss his fourth consecutive game with a high ankle sprain. The defensive tackle from Louisiana Tech aggravated the injury this week at practice and is out for Sunday.
Defensive end Kony Ealy, still looking for his first sack, was sick Friday and did not practice. Rivera expects him to be back Saturday.