Jonathan Stewart: Ankle Injury Will Keep Panthers RB Out of Action vs. Bucs

Alex KayCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 18:  Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On paper, the Carolina Panthers have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL. Unfortunately, the team will be missing one of its best weapons for the Week 1 showdown with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to his Facebook page, Jonathan Stewart will be inactive on Sunday, due to an ankle sprain he first suffered in Week 3 of the preseason against the New York Jets.

Sorry panther fans but it Looks like I'll be missing the game opener this year due to my recent ankle sprain!...

— Jonathan Stewart (@Jonathanstewar1) September 9, 2012

The Panthers are hoping to run teams out of the building in 2012, using QB Cam Newton, RB DeAngelo Williams, RB/FB Mike Tolbert and Stewart to form a wishbone-style offensive attack that could feature up to four capable runners in the backfield at once.

However, they’ll be a man down against the Bucs and backup FB/TE Richie Brockel is the player most likely to get snaps now that Stewart is sidelined. The most likely scenario is for Williams and Tolbert to get a majority of the carries, with Newton keeping a couple for himself at opportune times.

Stewart—who rushed for 761 yards and four touchdowns on 142 carries in 2011—has technically been the backup to Williams since he came into the league, but he’s been just as important to the success of the offense in that time period.

While the Panthers should be able to shoulder the burden of not having the 2008 first-round pick for at least a game—especially now that Tolbert is on the roster—they will need to get him back on the field in order to make the 2013 postseason.

Stewart did not post a timetable for his return, but the sprained ankle shouldn’t be a problem for much longer.

Stayed tuned to B/R, as we’ll keep you updated right here with the latest breaking news, updates, opinions and analysis on Jonathan Stewart’s sprained ankle and when he will be able to return to action.