Carolina Panthers

That No. 23 guy is a spark for Carolina secondary in first active week

Carolina Panthers defensive back Leonard Johnson (23) wraps up Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) in the second half of Sunday’s game. The Panthers won, 30-20.
Carolina Panthers defensive back Leonard Johnson (23) wraps up Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) in the second half of Sunday’s game. The Panthers won, 30-20. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Leonard Johnson is so new to the Carolina Panthers’ list of active players that No. 23 was not even on the roster card that media members get each Sunday.

Johnson was activated on Friday morning after practicing with the team for the first time during the bye week. Before that he was recovering from the Achilles surgery he had in the spring.

“I just thank the organization for allowing me to get as involved as I was today,” Johnson told reporters after the game. “I didn’t really know what to expect from a scheme standpoint.”

Johnson said he didn’t think he’d be used as much as he was in the Panthers’ blitz attack – the team brought extra pressure early and often. Johnson added that he had never blitzed as much as he did on Sunday.

Johnson had a sack, and a second was called back when he was flagged for unnecessary roughness for pulling Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer’s helmet off.

“Leading into the game, they never said, ‘We’re gonna blitz,’” he said. “Whatever they wanted to do, I just wanted to fit that role.”

Carolina sacked Palmer eight times, one shy of a team record. Johnson had eight tackles, second on the team behind cornerback Daryl Worley.

Johnson also recorded a quarterback hurry and broke up a two-point conversion attempt by Arizona.

“When I took that field, there was no doubt in my mind that I was ready,” said Johnson. “I practiced all week, high tempo and I didn’t go out playing scared or timid.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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