Original story reported by Steve Reed at carolinagrowl.com.
Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart said that while a sore left Achilles caused him to miss all of the Panthers' organized team activities (OTAs), he should be ready to practice when training camp arrives in August.
The injury spawned from Stewart's overcompensation for a toe problem that slowed him down before his first season in Carolina.
"It just kind of flared up," he said. "I'm pretty much staying off of it, to just kind of let it heal."
Stewart, who ran for 836 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, has not participated in any practices for the last four weeks, but did take part in in the conditioning sprints Tuesday that marked the conclusion of this year's OTAs. He appeared to be close to 100 percent, considering the fast pace at which he ran.
The Panthers are off until they report for training camp on August second.
"Oh yeah, I’m going to be up and running when camp starts," Stewart said. "Unfortunately I missed out on minicamp. But I’ll be ready."
This marks the second straight year Stewart has missed OTAs, but if Stewart's performance last season was any indication of what we should expect this season, I doubt it will be a problem.
Last year Stewart wasn't allowed by the NFL or NCAA to participate in OTAs, as his academic school year at the University of Oregon hadn't been completed. Nonetheless, Stewart would not have been able to participate in OTAs, because he was still recovering from toe surgery at the time.
The fact that he's missed the team's activities in consecutive years wasn't lost on his teammates, either.
"You’re going to take teasing," said Stewart, flashing a bashful smile. "They’re out there busting their butt with me just sitting on the sideline for the second year in a row. I’m really taking the heat for that."
However, Stewart said he was thankful to at least be present at OTAs this year to keep up on the playbook.
He was often seen sticking his head in the huddle just to get the playcall.
"Definitely just being in tune with the play-calling and stuff like that helps," Stewart said. "Terminology is something I definitely know now. The rookies that came in this year, it’s weird that they’re all older than me, but they’re still called rookies. Being able to help them out and saying plays in my head and actually be accountable to them, try to teach them … it’s another learning point, I guess."
Stewart said he doesn’t plan to make a habit of missing the OTAs in the future.
"The opportunity of learning stuff on the field, running plays, and getting in tune with the feel of the game at this level, that’s something I’ve definitely missed out on," he said. "But it is what it is. Like (running backs) coach Jim Skipper says, I have to use whatever’s available to me to the best of my ability."