If Jonathan Stewart's ankle injury forces him to miss significant time, it reduces what was a three-headed rushing attack in Carolina to only two backs.
UPDATE: Sunday, Sept. 9 at 9:45 a.m. ET by Alex Kay
Jonathan Stewart is going to miss the first game of the Carolina Panthers 2012 season.
According to his Facebook page, the backup RB will be inactive today due to a recent ankle sprain.
Sorry panther fans but it Looks like I'll be missing the game opener this year due to my recent ankle sprain!... fb.me/1IK2AawbF— Jonathan Stewart (@Jonathanstewar1) September 9, 2012
Stewart first tweaked his ankle in a late-August preseason contest against the New York Jets. He's been attempting to rehabilitate and recover, but he will not be ready to suit up for a game until at least next week.
Starting RB DeAngelo Williams and newly acquired RB/FB Mike Tolbert should be set to get the majority of touches out of the backfield against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today.
Backup FB Richie Brockel and starting QB Cam Newton are also likely candidates to contribute to the Carolina ground attack.
Keep it tuned here for more breaking news, updates, opinions and analysis on Jonathan Stewart's ankle injury and his status for the Panthers Week 2 contest against the New Orleans Saints.
-----END OF UPDATE-----
Update: Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 12:55 p.m. ET
Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer reports Stewart still hasn't been able to practice due to his lingering ankle injury. He will travel with the team as they prepare to face the Buccaneers, but his status remains unclear.
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart misses practice again w sprained ankle. Will make the trip when team leaves for Fla. today.— Joe Person (@josephperson) September 4, 2012
It's no surprise the Panthers are deciding to take a cautious approach since it's only Week 1. That said, each day he's unable to have an impact in practice allows more time for DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to lock down their roles in the opener.
More information will be available as the week goes on and the practices become more intense. As of now, it looks like a situation to avoid in fantasy unless things become more clear between now and Sunday afternoon.
-----End of update-----
UPDATE: Monday, September 3, 11:10 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
After hurting his ankle in the third game of the preseason against the New York Jets, Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart remains questionable for the squad’s Week 1 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In a report by Associated Press’ Steve Reed (via The State), Panthers' head coach Ron Rivera addresses Stewart’s injury and where he is in the recovery process:
“We’ll see,” Rivera said when asked if Stewart will be ready for the Bucs. “We don’t know until he gets out here and starts running around.”
Stewart spent Sunday running on the treadmill inside the stadium, Rivera said.
As much as it will hurt the team to not have their best receiving running back on the field if Stewart were to miss Game 1, the Panthers still have DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert on hand to pick up the slack.
Fantasy owners want Stewart back in the lineup ASAP, but the Panthers should play it safe and sit him out if they have to. Better to have Stewart healthy for the latter stages of the season than rushing him back and doing more damage.
----------End of Update----------
UPDATE: Sunday, September 2 at 2:00 p.m. EST
Although the Panthers haven't expressed much concern about his injured ankle, Jonathan Stewart will not practice today and no mention of when he will return to the practice field, according to The Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones.
"Stewart suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half against the New York Jets last Sunday. He has not practiced with the team since his injury.
He ran inside in the pool and the treadmill. They will evaluate him through the week before giving an update on his status for Tampa Bay.
'We don't know til we see him get out here and start running around again,' Rivera said."
--END of UPDATE--
Stewart was injured in the Panthers' preseason game against the New York Jets on August 26. The injury did not look terribly serious, but he was carted off the field.
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk said sources indicated the injury "was just a sprain."
That said, Stewart will not play in the Panthers' final preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But one good sign is that Jonathan Jones and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer wrote that Stewart is listed as "day-to-day."
Others expected to miss the Steelers game: FB Mike Tolbert (quad), RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle), LB Jon Beason, LBsulia.com/c/carolina-pan…
— Joe Person (@josephperson) August 29, 2012
This isn't really anything out of the ordinary. The final preseason game rarely features any players that are considered a vital part of a team's plans.
Both Tolbert and Stewart should be ready to go for the Panthers' regular season opener at Tampa Bay on September 9.
The week of rest should do both backs good, and though they may not be 100 percent, it would appear that both will be ready to go when the games count.
Bookmark this article, and stay tuned for further developments leading up to the season opener.
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