The Carolina Panthers blew out the rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers with ease on Sunday, as they took care of business against the Bucs, compared to the Detroit Lions who were upset by Tampa Bay the previous week. The Panthers also won by a wide margin without two of their key players out there on Sunday, as neither defensive end Charles Johnson nor starting running back DeAngelo Williams were out there. Both fullback Mike Tolbert and another star DE in Greg Hardy picked up the slack for Williams and Johnson, but the duo should be back for this week’s massive game against the New Orleans Saints.
The Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person reported that Panthers head coach Ron Rivera expects both Charles Johnson and DeAngelo Williams to practice on Wednesday, which means that Rivera expects them to play this week. I mean, almost nobody practices for a full week (which is what a Wednesday session implies) and doesn’t play on Sunday, so Rivera is essentially saying that he thinks they will be available against the Saints.
That’s the expectation we all have, too, since Johnson is a few weeks removed from the sprained MCL he suffered on Monday Night Football against the New England Patriots, as he was the victim of a downright dirty play from the normally clean and kind right tackle Marcus Cannon. Johnson could have easily suffered a more severe injury, but he’s long targeted this week as his return date.
Meanwhile, DeAngelo Williams never practiced last week after quietly reaggravating a quad injury against the Miami Dolphins (or, at least, that’s when I presume the aggravation occurred), and he was never expected to play despite not being ruled out until the inactive lists were released on Sunday. Williams’s injury was only expected to be a one-week deal, so it’s not a surprise to hear that he’s set to return against New Orleans.