CHARLOTTE - Defensive end Charles Johnson has been suspended for the Panthers' next four games.
A statement released by the NFL said Johnson would be eligible to return to the active roster on December 25 after serving a suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.
Johnson released a statement in response.
"I accept full responsibility. I have been recovering from back surgery, dealing with the daily grind of football and mistakenly thought this could help. It was an error in judgement on my part. We have a special group here I wanted to be a part of and felt an obligation to do my part by getting back as soon as possible. I have always prided myself on being a person who does things the right way through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I want to apologize to my team, Mr. Richardson and Panthers fans for this mistake. Regretfully I have disappointed people, but I promise to come back ready to redeem myself when this suspension is over."
After Friday's practice, head coach Ron Rivera said he had spoken with Johnson.
"I talked to Charles. In the statement, Charles takes full responsibility," Rivera said. "It's disappointing. It's hard. But the thing we've got to understand is that it's no different than if a guy blew an ankle out or something like that. You've got to have the next guy ready to roll."
Wide receiver Damiere Byrd will take Johnson's spot on the 53-man roster. Byrd was expected to come off injured reserve for Sunday's game at the Saints even before Johnson's suspension. The speedster had been on IR since suffering an arm injury in Week 4.