Panthers' Charles Johnson out again

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Defensive end Charles Johnson will miss his second straight start for the Carolina Panthers with a right knee sprain, but should be ready for next week's NFC South showdown against the New Orleans Saints.

The Panthers (8-3) also may be without leading rusher DeAngelo Williams, who has missed practice all week with a quad contusion, for Sunday's home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"A lot of concerns with DeAngelo,'' coach Ron Rivera said after Friday's practice.

Rivera said Williams' status for Tampa Bay (3-8) should be known by Saturday. Williams, who has 610 yards rushing this season, took a helmet to the quadriceps during Sunday's 20-16 victory at Miami.

If Williams is out, Mike Tolbert, Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner will split the carries. Tolbert (knee) and Stewart (ankle) were limited in Wednesday's practice but are good to go.

"Those guys are still a pretty formidable group,'' Rivera said.

Johnson suffered his injury when he was leg-whipped in the third quarter of a Nov. 18 victory over the New England Patriots.

Carolina's sack leader with 8.5 had two sacks in a 31-13 victory over the Buccaneers last month in Tampa. Mario Addison, who had a sack against the Dolphins, will start his second straight game and rotate with Frank Alexander.

"Mario showed us some really good stuff,'' Rivera said of the third-year player out of Troy.

Rivera is hopeful Johnson will return for the Dec. 8 Sunday night game at New Orleans. The Saints (9-2) are a game ahead of Carolina, the winners of seven straight, in the NFC South.

"I'm pretty excited about him,'' Rivera said of Johnson. "I think he has every opportunity to play next week. He had a big day today watching him with the training staff.''

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