4 critical observations from Carolina Panthers 2024 minicamp Day 1

There was a lot to unpack.
D.J. Johnson
D.J. Johnson / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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D.J. Johnson's injury concern

Much has been made about the Carolina Panthers' lack of edge rushing options heading into the new season. Jadeveon Clowney and D.J. Wonnum were signed to offset some major losses. K'Lavon Chaisson was another arrival, but he didn't show up until Day 1 of minicamp and has just five sacks in four seasons to his name.

The Panthers got a good chance to examine D.J. Johnson's growth over early workouts. Carolina's decision to trade up for the edge rusher represented another panic move from previous general manager Scott Fitterer. After an underwhelming rookie campaign to nobody's surprise, the pressure was on to make strides this time around.

Early reports surrounding Johnson were encouraging. Dave Canales, Dan Morgan, and defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero praised the player for his work ethic and willingness to get better. Signs were pointing up at last, but this came crashing to an abrupt halt during the first practice session of minicamp.

According to the media in attendance, Johnson was carted off with his knee heavily strapped. There was evident concern on the player's face as he went to the locker room. The Panthers will conduct tests before releasing additional information. But for now, things don't look great for the Oregon product.

Hopefully, it's nothing too serious and Johnson can continue on his quest to get extended playing time in Year 2 of his professional career. If nothing else, this is another example of how precarious things look across the edger rushing room in Carolina unless further reinforcements arrive.

This won't go unnoticed by Morgan and his front-office staff. His decision to trade Brian Burns and let Yetur Gross-Matos leave in free agency were calculated risks. If they don't come off, it's hard to envisage a scenario where Carolina's defense meets expectations.

If Johnson is forced to miss considerable time, it'll be a disaster for the player. One that could leave his hopes of carving out a decent role for himself in tatters.