With the Panthers' linebacker corps decimated — Jon Beason and Thomas Davis are on injured reserve — defensive end appears to be the strength of their defense. DEs Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy have recorded all five of the Panthers' sacks and the two will be playing opposite each other on Carolina's D-line for at least a few years. Coming off a breakout season, Johnson re-upped with a six-year deal in the offseason. It included $32 million guaranteed, which turned heads. Some evaluators believed the Panthers overpaid, but the team is very happy with his play. He has a sack in each of the first three games this season and has accounted for 47.8 percent of the team's sacks over the past 10 games. Hardy, a 2010 sixth-round pick with a contract that runs through 2013, immediately impressed head coach Ron Rivera. The Panthers lack depth at defensive end, but the starters form an exciting young duo.
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