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Johnson challenges teammates


CHARLOTTE – Irritated after letting Sunday's game against the division-rival Buccaneers slip away, Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson tweeted the following message:

"Embarrassed to be a part of that last drive! Some people study and work harder than others and they get exposé in the game #saynomore."

Head coach Ron Rivera was made aware of the tweet Monday morning, and while he would have liked Johnson to share those thoughts behind closed doors, Rivera supported the intent of the message.

"I wish he'd have said it in the meeting room or the locker room, but he's a captain, and if he sees something that he finds disturbing it should most certainly be pointed out," Rivera said.

"He's stepped out and said, 'Guys, everybody's got to have the right type of attitude to win this football game. We've got to have the right type of commitment.' I appreciate that 100 percent."

Rivera said Johnson, a six-year pro who leads the team with 8.5 sacks, is in the appropriate position to deliver a critical message if he so desires.

"When the captain, the guy who is earning the right to be critical of his teammates, wants to be critical – most certainly (he can)," Rivera said.

Johnson agreed he shouldn't have expressed his frustrations through social media but felt his opinion needed to be shared.

"I should say those kinds of things in-house, not out there in public," Johnson said. "I didn't intend to throw anybody under the bus or anything like that. It was just how I felt at the time. I was just trying (to say) people need to study more, need to do more for us to get this win."

"We're so close to winning, and the way we lose is frustrating," Johnson added. "We can't keep making the same mistakes."

SYMPTOM-FREE: Johnson was forced to leave Sunday's game in the first quarter when Greg Hardy's knee collided with Johnson's helmet as the two defensive ends applied pressure on Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman.

Johnson returned in the second quarter after passing concussion protocol tests in the locker room and said he is experiencing no ill-effects.

"I'm alright, no symptoms.  Just a little whiplash, or something like that. Nothing too serious," Johnson said. "You have to go through the concussion test, and they are very cautious about it. It was my first time going through that, and you have to go through a lot of stuff to even get back on the field. I was kind of getting antsy just being back there."

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