A vertiable plague of injuries once again struck the Carolina Panthers during Thursday night’s game against the Saints.
Cornerback Leonard Johnson had to be rushed to the hospital after exiting the game with a chest injury, he confirmed on Monday afternoon. His daughters and their mother were in Charlotte for the game and also went to the hospital. Johnson said he stayed overnight, and added that when he did get home from the hospital, quarterback Cam Newton came over to see him.
“I got rushed to the hospital, did a bunch of CT scans,” he said, adding that doctors were inititally worried about a punctured lung. “Stayed overnight, and then I went through another sequence of testing the next day. It’s good they were proactive.
“Each day I’ve been getting better from a breathing standpoint,” he said. “I definitely feel a lot better than I did that Thursday night!”
Johnson, who did not practice on Monday, said he thought he felt a “crack” in his sternum during the play in which he got injured, when Saints receiver Brandin Cooks’ cleat went into his chest.
“It just hurt so bad. I have never felt anything like that. I think I landed on the cleat,” he said. “It hurt. Right away I knew something was wrong.”
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis collided with him as the play finished, Johnson confirmed, joking that he was going to get his lawyer to come after Davis for “capping him off.” Davis incidentally collided with linebacker Luke Kuechly in that game as well, as a part of a play that has Kuechly in the concussion protocol.
Johnson said he couldn’t disclose the full nature of his injury.
Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott’s young daughter hand-made a “get well soon” card for Johnson, the cornerback said.
“So I’m gonna go out and get her a little gift and bring it to work on Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.
Also missing from practice on Monday was center Ryan Kalil. Coach Ron Rivera said Kalil took himself out of Thursday’s game when he “couldn’t go anymore.”
Kalil had missed the previous two games with a shoulder sprain.
Backup Gino Gradkowski was at practice but appeared to be limited as his backup, Chris Scott, took the majority of snaps during the portion of the workout the media can view.
“It felt good to be out there, get some fresh air,” said Gradkowski. “My knee is progressing. So hopefully it keeps getting better.”
Gradkowski had to step in when Kalil was out, and played against the Chiefs despite being limited with a nagging knee injury.
“Well, it was a chance for me to play,” he said. “If I get a chance to play, I’m going to play.”
Gradkowski was inactive on Thursday against the Saints.
Finally, defensive end Mario Addison was not at practice. He suffered a foot injury in the fourth quarter against the Saints.
Rivera said he could not provide any further status updates.