COMMENTARY | After being listed as "Out" for the Carolina Panthers' Week 13 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, defensive end Charles Johnson is still recovering from a sprained MCL, but he says he will be able to play in Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints.
After missing two weeks from the knee injury sustained on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots, the Panthers 27 year old defensive lineman has stated that he will be ready for the Saints on Sunday Night Football.In fact, the defensive star tweeted about the game, writing that he will be "suited and booted" on Sunday night. While the Panthers have not publicly confirmed that Johnson will play on Sunday, head coach Ron Rivera said on Monday in a press conference that Johnson, along with running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker Chase Blackburn, will return to practice on Wednesday.
Though the Panthers won both games without Johnson, he is clearly a valuable asset to the Panthers, notching 8.5 sacks, 23 tackles, and a forced fumble in his 10 starts this season. His 8.5 sacks are the best for Carolina and ranks 15th in the NFL.
Aside from being a matchup of one of the league's top defenses versus top offenses, this Sunday Night Football matchup will be an important one for the NFC South. Johnson and the Panthers are coming in with a record of 8-3, second in the NFC South only to the New Orleans Saints 9-3 record. With only a few weeks to go in the season, the winner of this contest will go a long way towards winning the division and securing a spot in the playoffs.
More importantly, this game possibly has some playoff implications. As the rankings stand currently, the Saints are in 1st in the division and the Panthers hold an NFC Wildcard position. A Saints win will further cement their place in the division, but a Panthers win will create a two-way tie for first in the NFC South.
Ashleigh Blue is a freelance writer from Charlotte, NC who has been following the Carolina Panthers for 13 years.
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