CHARLOTTE -- With the Panthers struggling to win games, defensive end Charles Johnson doesn't have a lot of interest in trumpeting his recent level of play.
His coach, however, is willing to drum up some support for the team's sack leader.
"He's had an outstanding season, which sometimes gets lost when you don't win the number of games that you'd like to," head coach John Fox said of Johnson, whose 8.5 sacks have him threatening to crack the top 10 in the NFL. "He's a starter now, so he's got a lot more opportunity to play. He's played a lot more plays; he's taken full advantage of that."
Johnson has a half-sack more the Panthers' all-time sack leader, Julius Peppers, now in his first season with the Chicago Bears. Johnson had backed up Peppers his first three years in the league and entered 2010 with 10 career sacks.
"I've just been trying to make plays. I'm hungry," Johnson said. "I'm not satisfied with anything. I want to go out there and play every play like it's the last. I just want to be a playmaker."
Johnson has been hesitant to talk about his personal play with the team struggling. Even after his biggest sack of the season -- one that knocked San Francisco starter Alex Smith out of the game and helped the Panthers rally to beat the 49ers in Week 7 -- Johnson downplayed it because the victory only improved Carolina to 1-5.
The Panthers haven't won a game since.
"If we aren't winning, there isn't any satisfaction in that," said Johnson, who has recorded sacks in four consecutive games. "Everybody has their personal goals, but I want to win."
HOT STEW: On offense, running back Jonathan Stewart has been the one coming on of late, but he downplayed his numbers for much the same reason.
"A hot streak isn't really a hot streak if we aren't winning. Nobody's happy about that," Stewart said.
Over the last three games, since returning from a concussion that sidelined him for two games, Stewart has racked up 323 rushing yards on 51 carries. Over his first eight games, Stewart totaled 208 yards on 69 carries.
"I mean, that's my job, so I'm just doing my job," Stewart said. "It would be silly not to do your job, regardless of your situation. We're still blessed with the opportunity to play, and you've got to do your job."
Stewart has one touchdown over the three games. During the same stretch, Mike Goodson has contributed 144 rushing yards and the first three touchdowns of his NFL career.
STANFORD SALIVATING: Rookie cornerback R.J. Stanford, who has spent the entire season on the Panthers' practice squad, could be poised to do more than practice.
Stanford, as well as second-year defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, were promoted from the practice squad this week.
"I'm going to get the opportunity to contribute now on Sundays and, hopefully, compete and help this team win," Stanford said.
A seventh-round pick out of the University of Utah, Stanford said he's learned a lot from his time on the practice squad -- particularly from a fellow Utah alum.
"Getting to compete against Steve Smith every day helps you become a better player," Stanford said. "That's an every-day test. You've got to bring your 'A game'."
"I've learned a lot. I've grown up."
Wednesday, the Panthers filled out the practice squad with linebacker Thomas Williams. A Southern California product, Williams had been waived by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. Tuesday, the Panthers added rookie defensive tackle Tommie Duhart out of Valdosta State.
Carolina still has a vacant spot on its 53-man roster.