Charles Johnson is not the fearsome pass rushing force he once was. After posting a total of 10 sacks over his first three seasons, Johnson would go on to post 52 over a remarkable five year run from 2010 to 2014. In the three seasons since then, he’s snagged just five, including zero this year.
This is all to say that the return of Charles Johnson to the Panthers’ defensive line after a four game suspension is not going to tip the scales in Carolina’s favor all that heavily. His return still matters for this Panthers team, however, because he’s still a useful rotational defensive end for a team that has incredible starters but largely unproven depth. There’s also the small matter of Johnson’s previous successes against the Falcons, even if they’ve been few and far between in recent years.
All three of the NFC South’s leading lights are remarkably healthy for this point in the season, with only the Saints suffering any kind of impact losses over the last couple of weeks. Carolina’s injury list is quite long, but it would not be a surprise to see almost everyone suit up against the Falcons, and certainly for the first week of the playoffs.
So Johnson, even if he doesn’t have a huge impact on this Falcons game, will probably matter for Carolina down the stretch. We’ll hope he doesn’t do much against Atlanta this Sunday.