CHARLOTTE – Defensive end Charles Johnson participated fully in practice Friday and is probable for Sunday's game versus the Chicago Bears.
Johnson had been suffering from a hip flexor injury, but head coach Ron Rivera was impressed with what he saw on Friday and expects Johnson to play.
Johnson is still in search of his first sack of the season, and Rivera said the Panthers need to win on early downs to create more productive pass-rush situations.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the way we've played. The last two weeks we've put ourselves in tough positions, where the majority of our second and third downs are second-and-medium, third-and-medium, second-and-short, third-and-short," Rivera said.
"You have to put them in position where they have to throw the ball. We've got to do that better. We have to put ourselves in that positon so we give our players a chance to have success."
At running back, where DeAngelo Williams is out and Jonathan Stewart is doubtful, Rivera said the recipient of the bulk of the workload will be determined as the game unfolds.
"The hot hand – that's probably what will end up happening," Rivera said. "The majority of the stuff will be between Fozzy (Whittaker) and (Darrin) Reaves. (Chris) Ogbonnaya will come in and do specific things for us."