Panthers’ Smith, Johnson injured

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers 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.

Smith had two receptions for 27 yards receiving at the time.

Earlier, Carolina’s Charles Johnson left

the game after taking a knee to the head from fellow defensive end Greg

Hardy. Johnson was taken to the locker room after trainers tested him

for a concussion on the sideline.

Johnson has not returned.

Johnson, tied for sixth in the league

with 8 1-2 sacks, injured his head when he 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.