During a season in which the Carolina Panthers have yielded very few bright spots, the defensive end tandem of Greg Hardy (aka Kraken) and Charles Johnson have given Panthers fans something to be thrilled about going forward. In fact, Carolina’s defense as a whole appears to have a dazzling future if and when the entire unit gets healthy, but that’s beyond the focus for right now.
Hardy and Johnson rank second in the NFL among defensive duos with a combined 15 sacks, only two sacks behind Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil, whom have a combined 17 sacks this year. Johnson leads the Panthers with 8.5 sacks and Hardy comes in second on the team with 6.5 sacks through nine games.
Carolina’s defensive line was something of a mute-point of discussion prior to and at the beginning of 2012. The defensive line simply hadn’t produced over the past few seasons all while Carolina’s linebackers had become more familiar names amongst fans due to the fact that they made plays on Sunday (when healthy).
The tide is beginning to turn for Carolina’s front-four, which is a great sign for those who follow the Panthers and were once familiar with household names like Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker, two guys that put fear in the eyes and minds of opposing quarterbacks.
Of course Hardy and Johnson have a long journey to travel before they can begin to be mentioned in the same breath as Peppers and Rucker. However, The Panthers and their fans should be proud of the work both Hardy and Johnson put in on Sunday, along with the steps they have taken to outshine their own line-backing core.
Then again, Panthers fans need something to be optimistic about. This stat helps a little.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1