Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said at a press conference Monday that injured running back Jonathan Stewart should return to practice Wednesday but fellow running back DeAngelo Williams will continue to be out for a couple more weeks.
Stewart has missed the team's last three games after severely spraining a knee in Carolina's Week 3 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's practiced only in a limited fashion since the injury, though his status as a game-time decision going into Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals was an upgrade from past weeks.
In his three games this season, Stewart has 29 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. Ankle injuries and a torn MCL limited him to just 15 games combined in 2012 and 2013.
Williams has been out the past two weeks after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the Panthers' Week 4 game against the Baltimore Ravens that left his foot in a cast. He also missed two games earlier this season with a thigh injury.
The Panthers' all-time leading rusher, Williams has 25 carries for 106 yards this season.
Fullback Mike Tolbert is also injured. He was placed on injured reserve/designated to return with a fractured knee. Rookie Darrin Reaves injured his hip in Carolina's Week 5 game against the Chicago Bears but returned to play against the Bengals on Sunday, carrying the ball eight times for 15 yards.
The game against Cincinnati marked the return of running back Fozzy Whittaker after a three-game absence due to a quad injury, but Whittaker then injured his leg against the Bengals. He had nine carries for 25 yards and a touchdown before he exited.
With so many injured running backs, quarterback Cam Newton saw an increased role in the running game against the Bengals, carrying a career-high 17 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Carolina is 28th in the NFL in rushing, averaging 86.8 yards per game.
The Panthers tied the Bengals 37-37 in overtime. Carolina plays at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in Week 7.
- Ben Estes