SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Charles Johnson said he worked harder in 2014 than he had in any previous year. It was frustration that fueled the veteran defensive end.
"It was kind of a slow start for me, and I just worked," Johnson said. "I worked harder than any other season."
Johnson posted four tackles and had zero sacks through the first four games of the 2014 season. The leader of the defensive line was disappointed with his production and was his own harshest critic.
"It was kind of a mental thing," Johnson said. "It wasn't like I wasn't getting good pressure. I just wasn't making the play. I just didn't get the job done."
Johnson knows the Carolina defense needs him to be a consistent playmaker. And he was more like the Johnson we've come to expect in the remaining 12 games of the regular season.
Johnson finished with a team-leading 8.5 sacks and 44 quarterback pressures. He also registered two sacks in the NFC Wild Card victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Now, as Johnson braces for his ninth season, he's doing everything in his power to make sure there isn't another slow start in 2015.
"That won't happen again," he said.
Johnson is the Panthers' lone proven pass rusher who sets the tone for a young group of defensive ends battling for the chance to be his full-time counterpart.
The defensive line tends to go as he goes. That's a lot of weight on Johnson's shoulders, but he's comfortable carrying it.
"I like the pressure. It doesn't matter," Johnson said. "I put it on myself to get the job done. I make sure I get the job done and I'm not going to depend on anybody else."