Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson's sprained knee isn't yet 100 percent, but Johnson expects to play Sunday against New Orleans.

"I'm still building up to (100 percent), but I'll be good to go on Sunday," Johnson said Wednesday. "It's feeling good. It's getting stronger. I'm just ready for Sunday."

Johnson missed two games with a sprained MCL in his right knee, an injury he sustained when New England offensive tackle Marcus Cannon leg-whipped him in the third quarter of the Panthers' Monday night win on Nov. 18.

Cannon apologized to Johnson after the game, and was fined $15,750 by the league office.

"It was kind of disappointing. But things happen. That's how it goes," Johnson said. "I was disappointed a little bit just because I wanted to be out there on the field so bad. But we're winning. So I can't complain."

Johnson said he probably could have played last week against Tampa Bay if necessary, but wanted to give his knee extra time to heal. Johnson said he doesn't think returning to the game for the Patriots' final series made the injury worse.