Frank Alexander out until December

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander, scheduled to return Wednesday from a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, has been suspended for 10 more games for a second violation.

Alexander won't be eligible to return to the active roster until the Monday after Carolina's Dec. 14 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I'm very sorry to the Panthers organization, my teammates, and Panthers fans that my mistakes from many months ago will prevent me from contributing for several more weeks," Alexander said in a statement. "This discipline arose from a violation that occurred many months ago. Since that violation, I have continued to grow, and I will continue to work hard, as I have been doing, to stay in shape and be a major contributor upon my return."

Alexander was expected to help fill the void left two weeks ago by left defensive end Greg Hardy, who was placed on the commissioner's exempt list until his domestic violence case is resolved.

Hardy's appeal of a July 15 guilty verdict by a Mecklenburg County judge is scheduled for Nov. 17, although that case could get pushed into 2015 due to a heavy backload of cases.

Alexander, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick out of Oklahoma, had 3 1/2 sacks in his first two seasons. He played in 24 games with six starts.

At 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Alexander was considered the closest thing to an every-down player that Carolina has on its roster without Hardy. Wes Horton has played mostly on first and second down in run situations. Mario Addison and second-round pick Kony Ealy have been used primarily in pass-rushing situations.

Right defensive end Charles Johnson, third on the team's all-time sack list, missed Wednesday's practice with a hip flexor.

Coach Ron Rivera said he expects Johnson to play on Sunday against Chicago. Johnson has gone sackless in the first four games. The Panthers, who led the league in sacks last season with 60, have had only one in the last two games.