Panthers DE Charles Johnson returns to game

STEVE REED AP Sports Writer Published:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson returned to Sunday's game against Tampa Bay in the second half after missing all of the second quarter with a head injury.

Johnson first left after a collision with teammate Greg Hardy in the backfield late in the first quarter.

Johnson, tied for sixth in the league with 8 1-2 sacks, collided with Hardy's knee as they were applying pressure on quarterback Josh Freeman in the backfield late in the first quarter. Both Johnson and Hardy remained on the ground for several minutes while being attended to by trainers.

Hardy got up limping, but did return on the next series to get a sack.

Earlier, wide receiver Steve Smith has returned to Sunday's game after injuring his hand in the second quarter and being taken to the locker room.

Smith suffered the injury while trying to catch a pass in the end zone from Cam Newton. Smith came up with the catch but was called for offensive pass interference, nullifying the score. He left the game holding his left hand and trainers almost immediately took him to the locker room and missed an entire series before returning just before halftime.

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