Charles Johnson injury: Panthers DE hurts groin

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers came away with a victory Thursday night, but could be without a top pass rusher moving forward.

Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson left Thursday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a groin injury. His status going forward remains uncertain at this point.

[UPDATE: head coach Ron Rivera said after Thursday's game that Johnson suffered a pull, not a tear, according to Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer. Johnson expressed his frustration with the injury after the game, and could not say whether he would be available next week against Atlanta, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.]

Johnson was closing out the Panthers' 31-13 win in the final minute of the game when he went down. He remained on the field before being taken by cart to the locker room. The team hasn't made an announcement on his status, but losing one of the defense's top pass rushers would dampen a win when Carolina is looking to make a push in the second half of the season.

The Panthers have leaned on a strong pass rush as the centerpiece of their defense. Johnson is integral to the team's success, pairing with Greg Hardy to form the majority of the team's pass rush. If Johnson is forced to miss extended time, the team will turn to rotational defensive end Mario Addison, who has shined in a limited role but is untested as a starter.

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