The Saints have scratched middle linebacker Jon Vilma and free safety Malcolm Jenkins for Sunday's game against Carolina, while the Panthers have deactivated defensive end and sack leader Charles Johnson.
The two Saints defensive starters join receiver Lance Moore and running back Mark Ingram among New Orleans' inactives, giving all four extra rest before the playoffs.
Vilma has been playing through pain in his left knee in recent weeks, while Jenkins emerged from last week's victory over Atlanta with a sore neck, but was able to practice on Thursday and Friday.
Moore has been hampered by a sore left hamstring and Ingram has a sprained big toe on his left foot.
Johnson, who has nine sacks, did not practice and was doubtful with back soreness.