Johnson was handed a four-game suspension Friday for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Johnson's suspension will begin immediately, so he won't play in Sunday's game against the Saints and will also sit out the next three contests. That puts Johnson in line to return for the Panthers' Week 17 matchup with the Falcons, as well as any postseason action to follow. Mario Addison, Julius Peppers and Wes Horton could see heightened roles in the Panthers' defensive-line rotation while Johnson, who has just 16 tackles and no sacks on the season, is unavailable the next four weeks.
Johnson (groin) is active for Sunday's game against the Bears.
Johnson was listed on Friday's injury report with a groin injury, but he was able to practice without limitations. He's slated to start at defensive end per usual, though Julius Peppers figures to see his share of snaps as well.
Johnson was a new arrival on Friday's injury report, so this latest ailment was likely sustained in practice. The veteran is listed as a starting defensive end, but he still shares snaps with Julius Peppers, especially in pass-rushing situations. Therefore, if Johnson can't go, expect both Peppers and Wes Horton to see an increase in their respective snap counts.
Johnson's back issues in camp were closely connected to the hamstring injuries that have caused him to miss 10 games over the past two seasons. As expected, the Panthers allowed the veteran to ease his way back into game shape in order to avoid aggravating the injury. The goal was for the 31-year-old to return Week 1, and judging by his absence from the team's injury report, his recovery went according to plan. Given the depth on the team's defensive line, do not expect Johnson to see a full workload right right away.
Johnson (back) hopes to be ready for the start of the upcoming campaign, ESPN's David Newton reports.
Johnson has missed 10 games over the past two seasons due to hamstring injuries, which he said were closely connected to the lower-back pain he'd experienced in recent times. In fact, the 31-year-old's back problems were so bad that he was unable to get out of bed earlier this offseason. That pain resulted in Johnson undergoing a microdiscectomy in March -- a procedure he said provided him with immediate relief. Now taking part in Carolina's training camp preparations, Johnson is aiming to be ready to play by Week 1. Whenever he reenters the fold, the Panthers' depth at defensive end should allow Johnson to remain relatively fresh, but his days of approaching double-digit sacks are likely behind him now.
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