Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said running back Jonathan Stewart is set to resume practicing for the Panthers on Tuesday, for the first time during the regular season. Stewart has missed the start of the 2013 season after undergoing ankle surgery in the offseason. Per the Charlotte Observer, Rivera was unclear about when Stewart might be able to return to game action.
UPDATE: Jonathan Stewart has returned to practice. As anticipated, the Panthers are targeting a Week 9 return for Stewart and won’t rush him back into action on Thursday night. He’s not listed on the team injury report for Week 8.
The Panthers have a short week, as they prepare to travel to Tampa for a Thursday Night Football matchup with the Buccaneers. Rivera would not rule out the possibility of Jonathan Stewart being available for Thursday night’s game, though it seems that would be quite rushed with the short practice week. A more likely target date for Stewart’s return could be the following week when the Panthers play host to the Falcons on November 3rd.
Stewart’s return would be a welcome addition to the Panthers’ backfield, where he has traditionally been deployed as the change-of-pace power back to the speedy DeAngelo Williams. The Panthers have been using fullback Mike Tolbert in a similar fashion, dating back to the end of last year when Stewart was first injured. It will be interesting to see if Stewart supplants Tolbert right away as the power back or if there if the two see a split in carries.