Panthers Dodge Big Bullet With Big Money

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Standout Defensive End Charles Johnson, the sack leader and anchor along the front four of what many consider to be the most intimidating defense in football, is listed as week-to-week following a sprained MCL sustained during Monday Night's thrilling victory.

An NFL media insider reported the extent of the injury on Tuesday.

The injury occurred when Johnson beat Patriots Right Tackle Marcus Cannon during a third quarter drive that yielded a New England touchdown with the Panthers most dominant pass rusher being examined, first on the sidelines and later in the team facilities. After Johnson knocked Cannon to the ground and proceeded to move by him into the offensive backfield, Cannon threw an illegal leg-whip from the ground, striking Johnson on or near the knee itself.

No penalty was called on the play, which saw Panthers fans holding their collective breath after it played out, with Johnson pounding his fist into the field and screaming in pain. After a short absence, however, Johnson was seen back on the sideline in full gear warming-up to re-enter the game.

Johnson was more or less a non-factor after re-entering the game, and noticeably favored his injured right leg during the team's final defensive possession.

This could be the most encouraging news coming out of a signature win against the New England Patriots, and calls attention to the team's tenuous situation with the standout defensive end who plays opposite Johnson - Greg "The Kraken" Hardy - who is currently in the final year of his rookie contract.

Hardy has already rejected a perfunctory offer from the team of four years, $32 million. Johnson is the most richly-compensated player in Panther history after signing a six year, $72 million deal under the now defunct Marty Hurney regime in 2011.

It is also worth noting reserve DEs Mario Addison and Wes Horton, who seem to have surpassed DE Frank Alexander in the eyes of the coaches, did enough to keep criticism away while filling in for the injured Johnson during several New England scoring drives. This followed Addison's first half recovery of a Stevan Ridley fumble deep in Panther territory.

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