Julius Peppers' departure in the offseason left the Panthers with a massive void at defensive end and had GM Marty Hurney facing questions about how to replace him. Hurney felt strongly about the potential of DEs Charles Johnson and Everette Brown, and thus far, Johnson is proving Hurney's faith was well placed. He has become an every-week starter for the first time in his career and has done a solid job defending the run and rushing the passer, making a sack in each of the past two games. The Panthers have two young defensive ends that they are trying to develop in Brown, who is in his second season, and rookie Greg Hardy, and the other starting end, Tyler Brayton, signed a three-year deal in March. Johnson's contract will expire after the season, and the Panthers have been looking to shed payroll with a 2011 lockout looming, but observers in Charlotte say the team ought to give serious consideration to re-signing Johnson.