Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart reminded teammates, fans and upcoming opponents just how dangerous he is with the ball in his hands, rushing for two touchdowns in Carolina's 28-16 preseason win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now he has to prove he can stay healthy. But if Sunday night was any indication, Stewart could be back in a big way.
He only ran for 26 yards on four carries, but his explosive 17-yard burst and his two TDs has Panthers coach Ron Rivera brimming with confidence when discussing a potential running attack that includes DeAngelo Williams, Stewart and Pro Bowl fullback Mike Tolbert.
Rivera said the Panthers have the potential to be "dynamic" if Stewart can stay healthy.
Stewart ran for 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns in his first four seasons, but ankle and foot injuries limited the former first-round pick to 15 games over the last two seasons and his production has fallen off dramatically. He missed the start of camp with a hamstring injury. With Williams also in the picture, the two will constantly eat into one another's fantasy production. Factor in Tolbert stealing short TDs, and Newton's rushing ability, and the potential of Stewart - and Williams - seems capped in the RB3 range.
"Very excited about having Jonathan on the field," coach Ron Rivera said after Wednesday's workout. "He's healthy again. He's moving the way we need him to move. I like what we're getting out of him.
"Even Jonathan is saying this is the first time he's been healthy [in a while]. So that's a good thing."
Rivera said Stewart doesn't need to be a 1,000-yard rusher to be effective. He just needs Stewart to be more effective than he was a year ago when he spent the first seven games on the physically unable to perform list and then missed the last three games after suffering a knee injury at New Orleans.
"We need to be able to rush for 100 yards a game like we did last year," Rivera said. "That's one of the things that really helped us out [last season]. We ran the ball well, we controlled the clock, we controlled the tempo of the game."
Stewart is in a timeshare with DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert, so his fantasy value is pretty low at this point in the offseason. But he's a talented runner and could work his way into RB3/flex status if he stays healthy and gets 8-12 touches per game.
Steve Smith is active, but not 100% for today's matchup. Expect a heavy dose of DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert with Jonathan Stewart out.
Thursday, December 26, 2013, 6:22pm
Friday, December 20, 2013, 6:36pm
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee, out) has been ruled out for Week 16. With Stewart sidelined, both DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert produced last week and have a chance to do so again this week against the Saints.
Thursday, December 19, 2013, 6:43pm
Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 6:32pm
Friday, December 13, 2013, 6:50pm
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee, out) has been ruled out for Week 15. Stewart has a torn MCL and is out for Week 15. DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert will see extra work against a tough Jets rush defense (that was gashed by Marcel Reece in Week 14).
Thursday, December 12, 2013, 6:28pm
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) missed practice again Thursday. Stewart has a torn MCL and is out for Week 15. DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert will see extra work against a tough Jets rush defense (that was gashed by Marcel Reece in Week 14).
Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 7:08pm
Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart (knee) did not practice Wednesday. Stewart has a torn MCL and is out for Week 15. DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert will see extra work against a tough Jets rush defense (that was gashed by Marcel Reece in Week 14).
The Panthers are apparently holding out hope Stewart will return in Week 17, but that's probably a stretch. For now, the RB situation in Carolina looks a little clearer from a fantasy perspective as DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert will now carry the load, most likely the rest of the way.
Sunday, December 8, 2013, 7:11pm
DeAngelo Williams is expected to get the start at RB with Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart working in.
Friday, December 6, 2013, 5:49pm
Panthers RB Mike Tolbert (knee, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 14. Tolbert is a desperation start on the off chance that he scores a TD.
Thursday, December 5, 2013, 6:40pm
Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 6:36pm
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