4 Carolina Panthers players on the hot seat entering Week 9 vs. Colts

These individuals must step up in Week 9...
Ikem Ekwonu
Ikem Ekwonu / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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D.J. Johnson - Carolina Panthers OLB

The Carolina Panthers are extremely light on pass-rushing options right now. Justin Houston was the latest option to find himself on injured/reserve, which means it might be time for the coaching staff to finally see what they have in rookie D.J. Johnson.

Johnson has been something of an enigma and unfair scapegoat since the Panthers traded up in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft to secure his services. A bombshell to many when one considers he was seen as a late Day 3 selection by most analysts.

It's been a rough start for Johnson, who's taken time to adjust and has been seldom seen more often than not. However, the former Oregon star looks to be getting more involved in recent weeks and could get his biggest snap share of the campaign in Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts.

Carolina's coaches could also use Amare Barno and recently elevated Eku Leota opposite Brian Burns. Johnson should get the first shot, but it's imperative he remains disciplined and doesn't become a weak link.

One reason why the Panthers coveted Johnson was his length and ability to set the edge. Something that will be needed in the biggest possible way going up against stud running back Jonathan Taylor - a man who could single-handily tip the scales if afforded early momentum.