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Ron Rivera not bothered by Charles Johnson's now-deleted tweets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson wasn't particularly happy with being pulled in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 38-0 victory over Atlanta.

He shared his frustration on Twitter after the game with the following two messages that he's since taken down:

"Good game overall as a TEAM!!? [W]hat's the point of having good pass rushers if u sit them at the beginning of the 4 quarter #KeepPounding''

"I thought passer rusher are for situation like today!! Guess not.''

Carolina coach Ron Rivera plans to talk to Johnson, who was playing in his third game since returning from injured reserve. He also understands Johnson wanting to play, particularly against the Falcons being a native of Georgia.

"I get it,'' said Rivera, whose team improved to 13-0 and secured a first-round bye in the playoffs with the victory. "It's an emotional game. He prides himself, especially playing against Atlanta. He wants to be an impact player, especially against Atlanta. I truly do appreciate that, and it doesn't bother me, because I get it.

"Now, would I have preferred he talked to me? Yes. But I understand and I'm not going to worry about it.''

Rivera took many key starters such as Johnson, linebacker Luke Kuechly, linebacker Thomas Davis and quarterback Cam Newton out in the fourth quarter with a 38-0 lead.

"Quite honestly, I'd be surprised if there wasn't anybody critical about what I decided,'' Rivera said. "The bottom line is, it's not about getting stats or anything like that this time of the year.

"What's it's about is making sure we're healthy, we're judicious in who we play and don't play in times like that. Yeah, we could have played everybody and tried to do more things. But I didn't want Luke out there, I didn't want TD out there I didn't want Charles out there.''

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott called Johnson wanting to play "healthy.'' He's been in communication with the team's second all-time sack leader and plans to talk to him face to face over the next few days.

Johnson played 34 of 64 snaps. He didn't have a sack or a tackle, but he did have one quarterback hurry. He hasn't had a sack since returning from the hamstring injury and has only one all season.

"I appreciate him wanting to play,'' Rivera said. "I really do. But the thing he has to remember is he missed eight weeks. This his third game back, so he's really just getting himself into game shape.

"It'll come. The decisions that I made, I made them because I'm thinking about the long term.''