Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart said he underwent arthroscopic surgery Friday on his left ankle.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) Jan. 12, 2013
Stewart battled injuries throughout the season, but suffered a serious injury to his left ankle that limited the runner against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12.
The nagging ankle injury forced Stewart to miss the remainder of the season after a setback (h/t Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer), leaving the former 1,000-yard rusher at 493 all-purpose yards and just two touchdowns (one rushing) total for 2012.
What It Means
It was clear in 2012 that the entire Panthers team was playing below expectations, and the results from every player proved the team still had much work to do to become a contender in the NFC.
One of the biggest issues with Carolina was the lack of a rushing attack despite having three talented backs (Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert), as well as the dual-threat abilities of Newton.
The Panthers have fired running backs coach John Settle (h/t Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer), and the team must revert back to a more traditional rushing attack and let a fresh and healthy Stewart show his dominance once again.
After one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, Stewart will be looking at his ankle surgery as a chance at redemption in 2013.
With his health coming back to 100 percent and a long layoff between his last game action and his next start, the veteran back should be fresh for the next campaign and should be a huge contributor to the team’s success.
Add in the fact that the team is likely to revert to a more typical power-rushing attack with a steady rotation of the team’s three elite running backs, and Stewart could be looking at his chance make a huge comeback after his offseason surgery.