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Charles Johnson, Damiere Byrd put surgeries behind them

CHARLOTTE – The announcement of quarterback Cam Newton's shoulder procedure in March was major headline news, but it wasn't the only surgery impacting the Panthers in the spring.

Defensive end Charles Johnson and wide receiver Damiere Byrd also went under the knife, and both have been participating during the first week of organized team activities.

Johnson, entering his 11th season, reported back pain to the athletic training staff and ultimately had to have a microdiscectomy.

"It was scary. Something I didn't expect," Johnson said. "I had never had any back problems like that. But once I had the surgery (the pain) instantly went away. Once I started rehabbing it, that gave me confidence. I talked to a lot of people in the facility who had the surgery – it's pretty common – so I felt better about it."

Johnson participated in individual drills Tuesday and Wednesday, and his workload will gradually increase.


Unlike Johnson, an established veteran, Byrd is a young player scratching and clawing for an opportunity.

After spending the majority of his rookie and sophomore season on Carolina's practice squad, Byrd was called up to the active roster for the 2016 season finale and he made his NFL debut.

Surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee wasn't an ideal way to start his offseason, but Byrd has been full-go during OTAs.

"I feel pretty good. Going into OTAs I wasn't really sure how I would react to competing against other people in front of me, but it felt really good. I feel like I'm moving really well," Byrd said.

"Luckily it happened in a time frame where I didn't really miss anything."

Byrd knows he's got a lot of work to do to earn a roster spot, especially after the Panthers used their first two draft picks on running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel, two speedy playmakers that can make an impact as kick and or punt returners.

"Every year the team is going to bring in people that can play, people that can improve our team," Byrd said. "I'm still one of those guys still trying to prove it, still trying to make my way to playing consistently. It's going to be a big competition, and anything can happen from now all the way until the end of training camp.

"It definitely makes you hungrier. If you have confidence in yourself and you see other people they bring in, that makes you want to work harder, makes you want to show them your worth."

View photos from the first week of Carolina's organized team activities.

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