Panthers' Johnson working to answer Rivera's call

Posted Aug. 17, 2012 @ 10:20 a.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Panthers DE Charles Johnson admitted he was surprised when Ron Rivera publicly challenged him to take his game to another level after the first week of training camp.

We hear Johnson seems to be responding well to the message, though. Sources say his better showing over the last couple weeks of camp might be a result of him getting back, or at least closer, to 100 percent. Johnson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early May and said the knee was not yet at full strength in late July.

After having a breakout 2010 season in which he recorded 11½ sacks, the Panthers rewarded Johnson with a fat new contract — six years for $76 million with $32 million guaranteed — and expectations for the 2007 third-round pick skyrocketed.

His production declined a bit in 2011, and Rivera, who has called out a handful of players publicly this offseason, clearly thinks Johnson can do better. If Johnson is not getting after quarterbacks consistently, the Panthers’ pass rush could be very ineffective.