Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) returns to the sideline after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

DeAngelo Williams 'very doubtful', Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert will play

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams did not practice at all this week with what seems to be an aggravated quad injury, so it is a surprise to see that the Panthers haven’t ruled Williams out for today’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I fully expect him to be inactive today, and Panthers head coach Ron Rivera even stated earlier this week that he is very concerned about Williams’s chances of playing.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Williams is “very doubtful” for today’s game, and that basically means that it would be an utter shock for Williams to suit up today. He’s clearly not healthy enough to play, and the Panthers also need to keep their No. 1 back’s health going forward in mind. There’s no point in rushing him to play against the Buccaneers when the Panthers have a far more important game next week against the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers are a legitimate playoff team, and teams locked into the playoffs don’t rush key players into games that they should easily win without them.

Schefter is also reporting that both Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert will play despite questionable tags, and this isn’t breaking news at all. It is solid confirmation, though, so fantasy owners who are bullish on either player shouldn’t feel worried about starting either for injury purposes. I would be worried, though, about trusting one of those two backs to have a big day, but either one of them qualifies as a legitimate sleeper start. Stewart and Tolbert returned to practice on Thursday, and their injuries (if Stewart even has one) are considered to be extremely minor. Honestly, they should have been listed “probable” with Williams already ruled “out”, but such is the nature of mind-game injury reports in the NFL.

Tags: Carolina Panthers DeAngelo Williams Injury Report Jonathan Stewart Mike Tolbert Ron Rivera

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