The NFL announced Friday that Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson has been suspended for the next four games without pay after violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
Johnson apologized for the violation in a statement on the Panthers' official website:
"I accept full responsibility. I have been recovering from back surgery, dealing with the daily grind of football and mistakenly thought this could help. It was an error in judgement on my part. We have a special group here I wanted to be a part of and felt an obligation to do my part by getting back as soon as possible. I have always prided myself on being a person who does things the right way through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I want to apologize to my team, [owner] Mr. [Jerry] Richardson and Panthers fans for this mistake. Regretfully I have disappointed people, but I promise to come back ready to redeem myself when this suspension is over."
The 31-year-old veteran is in the midst of his 11th season with the Panthers after they selected him in the third round of the 2007 NFL draft out of Georgia.
Johnson has 67.5 career sacks to his credit, but although he has started 11 games this season, he has yet to register a sack.
Even so, the 8-3 Panthers are tied for fourth in the NFL in sacks with 32 due largely to Julius Peppers and Mario Addison, who have combined for 16.
With Johnson out, Peppers could potentially serve as a starter across from Addison rather than just a situational pass-rusher.
Wes Horton also figures to receive more playing time at defensive end, and defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei may take on more pass-rushing responsibility as well.