The Carolina Panthers expect injured running back DeAngelo Williams to return this Thursday against the Saints, head coach Ron Rivera said Monday.
Williams, 31, has appeared in only two games this season as a result of an ankle injury. The running back has not played since he departed the team's Week 4 game against the Baltimore Ravens with the injury.
Rivera said he's looking forward to seeing Williams and Jonathan Stewart together in the backfield again:
"DeAngelo has signified that he's ready to roll. I'm excited about that," Rivera said. "It will be a nice boost because when he and Jonathan get rolling and do the things that they do, I think that's a huge thing for us. That can be a nice shot in the arm."
Carolina has lost two straight games after falling 13-9 to the Seahawks on Sunday, but the 3-4-1 Panthers are still in first place in the NFC South. The 3-4 Saints are in second place.
Williams appeared in Carolina's season-opening victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries. Following that win, Williams missed the next two contests for the Panthers before he rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 28.
DeAngelo Williams holds the single-season (1,515 yards in 2008) and career (6,733 yards) rushing records for the Carolina Panthers franchise. In Week 8, Jonathan Stewart led the team with 79 rushing yards on 16 carries.
- Brad Rowland