Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson has 10 days to let his injured groin heal in the hopes he can play against his home-state team.

An MRI exam on Johnson’s right groin was negative, but his status for next week’s game against Atlanta remains uncertain, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday.

“So far it’s positive. A lot of things will depend on how sore he is the next couple days,” Rivera said. “There is some swelling. But the key will be how he reacts to the treatment he gets the next few days.”

Johnson, who leads the team with six sacks, was injured with 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining in the Panthers’ 31-13 victory at Tampa Bay on Thursday. Johnson said it happened on an “awkward” play after the Buccaneers recovered an onside kick to put the Panthers’ defense back on the field.

Johnson, a Georgia native, said after the game he expects to play against the Falcons.

“The Atlanta game is a very personal game for him,” Rivera said. “Knowing him he will do everything he can because he loves playing Atlanta.”

Rivera gave players the weekend off, but Johnson will be required to stay in Charlotte for treatment.

Johnson has led the Panthers in sacks every season since 2010 after Julius Peppers signed with the Bears.