CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers Defensive End Charles Johnson has been suspended for four games due to violating the NFL policy on using performance enhancing drugs, the Carolina Panthers announced Friday.

Johnson was suspended immediately and without pay, officials said. He will be eligible to return on Christmas following the team's December 24 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to the Carolina Panthers, Johnson released the following statement following his suspension:

"I accept full responsibility. I have been recovering from back surgery, dealing with the daily grind of football and mistakenly thought this could help. It was an error in judgement on my part. We have a special group here I wanted to be a part of and felt an obligation to do my part by getting back as soon as possible. I have always prided myself on being a person who does things the right way through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I want to apologize to my team, Mr. Richardson and Panthers fans for this mistake. Regretfully I have disappointed people, but I promise to come back ready to redeem myself when this suspension is over."