4 Carolina Panthers players who need extended reps in 2023 regular-season finale

It's time for these Carolina Panthers players to show what they've got...

Raheem Blackshear
Raheem Blackshear / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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D.J. Johnson - Carolina Panthers OLB

When the Carolina Panthers traded up to draft D.J. Johnson in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, there were more than a few who questioned the move. This was a player with six years of college experience and just one as an edge rusher. He was also seen as a Day 3 selection by many. Others had him going undrafted.

The Panthers panicked when they started to see edge rushers on their board getting taken by other teams. Johnson was reportedly the last one left, leaving no option but to go up the order to avoid missing out entirely. That said, this was still tabbed as a work in progress by the coaching staff.

Johnson has found life difficult in Year 1. He's struggled to make an impact on the rotation. He's dealt with some injury issues. He's featured in just 31 percent of defensive snaps despite Carolina's lack of pass-rushing options.

This seems like a good time to give Johnson the lion's share of reps from a starting position. The Panthers need to know how far the player's come this season. Especially considering he'll be almost 26 years old by the time Week 1 of the 2024 campaign arrives.

In truth, this should come at the expense of Brian Burns. The player's been a model professional this season amid his contract stalemate. He's dealt with various ailments throughout the year and toughed it out. Taking him out to cancel the risk of injury before extension talks resume is the least he deserves.