The Panthers were forced to play without one of their top pass rushers for a good chunk of the second half Monday night.
Charles Johnson, the team’s leader in sacks this season with 8 1/2, went down on the opening drive of the third quarter when he was struck in the side of the right knee by the leg of Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon.
Here’s the play in question, courtesy of Kissing Suzy Kolber.
It is difficult to interpret Cannon’s intentions, but the general consensus following the hit was that Cannon had illegally leg whipped Johnson, an act that should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Jon Gruden predicted during the ESPN telecast of the game that the third-year pro will likely face discipline from the league office this week.
Johnson later returned to the game, and Cannon reportedly sought him out afterward and apologized.
According to another NFL defensive lineman, however, this is not Cannon’s first offense. Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy tweeted during Monday night’s game that he, too, was hit illegally by Cannon, whom he called a “dirty” player, during a 2012 preseason game.
#61 for patriots is dirty. He intentionally tried to take me out last yr preseason as well. Thats uncalled for. A leg whip though. Come on!!—
Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) November 19, 2013
Johnson recorded one tackle in the game, a 24-20 Panthers win.