Thursday October 16th, 2014

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart said he will return from a knee injury and start Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Stewart has not played since spraining his knee in the Panthers' Week 3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In three games this season, he had 29 yards for 88 yards and a touchdown. Ankle injuries and a torn MCL limited him to a combined 15 games the past two seasons.

“Jonathan looked good. He had a good day,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We’ll see how he is (Thursday), but he took the majority of the reps. He took all the reps that were slated for him as well.

“I’m excited to see him on the football field and hopefully there’s no residual (Thursday) and he’ll be ready to roll again at practice.”

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Carolina's running backs have battled several injuries in addition to Stewart's knee injury. DeAngelo Williams has not played since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 4 and is reportedly still weeks away from returning. Fullback Mike Tolbert was placed on injured reserve/designated to return with a fractured knee and is eligible to return in Week 13.

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Carolina is ranked 18th in total offense and 28th in rushing yards. The team is averaging 86.8 yards on the ground and has four rushing touchdowns.

Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin missed practice Wednesday after suffering a concussion on a hit from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict that drew an unnecessary roughness penalty. Burfict was also fined $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen.

The Panthers are 3-2-1 after tying the Cincinnati Bengals last week. They are in first place in the NFC South and play the Packers in Green Bay on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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- Paul Palladino

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