Carolina Panthers see more from D.J. Johnson
There was a notable face at practice in the form of Justin Houston. The recent free-agent signing wasn't able to participate with the paperwork yet to go through the NFL's transaction process, but he was on hand to offer some helpful hints to his new teammates and introduce himself formally.
Houston is expected to become an influential part of the defensive rotation and seems to have lots left in the tank if his 9.5 sacks for the Baltimore Ravens last season were any indication. What this means for others looking for reps on the edge remains to be seen, but it only raises the stakes to get noticed with preseason games upcoming.
One player who's starting to show himself after taking some time to adjust is D.J. Johnson. The third-round selection was a controversial choice - especially considering the Panthers traded up to acquire him - but we are starting to see why Ejiro Evero and others were so high on the Oregon product throughout Carolina's pre-draft assessments.
Johnson is a physical specimen who's reportedly been setting the edge well against the run. Shaq Thompson asked for his inclusion onto the defensive rotation on Tuesday and the rookie duly repaid his faith with what would have been a sack according to those in attendance.
This is a positive step for Johnson, who'll get plenty of preseason work before the coaching staff determines his initial status. But whether he plays or not immediately, learning from the likes of Brian Burns and Houston will do wonders for his long-term development.