The Panthers are going to be very close to full strength for Sunday’s showdown for first place in the NFC South against the Saints.
Defensive end Charles Johnson, running back DeAngelo Williams and linebacker Chase Blackburn will all return after missing last week’s game because of injuries. Coach Ron Rivera said that all three players will return to their starting roles and that he’s excited to see how things unfold now that the team’s gotten healthier.
“I’m excited about the fact that we’ll have some of our top line guys back,” Rivera said, via the team’s website. “It’s good to have the young guys get opportunities, but I’m thrilled. It’s a great situation to be in. As we get into this stretch run we can get everybody back healthy and, hopefully, we can continue on that way.”
The Panthers got good performances from linebacker A.J. Klein and defensive end Mario Addison, among others, while those top line guys were out of the lineup. That gives them enviable depth as they put the finishing touches on the regular season that has them positioned for their first playoff appearance since 2008.