Jonathan Stewart out until at least Week 17, not practicing today

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) runs as Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebackers Jonathan Casillas (52) and Lavonte David (54) defend in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart has a wealth of talent, but it’s sad to see that he can’t bank on it anymore due to chronic ankle injuries that are severely derailing the 26-year-old’s career. It seems hard to believe that Stewart is just 26 due to all the punishment his legs have taken lately, and he suffered a torn MCL against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14. Even though it wasn’t another ankle injury, a torn MCL is definitely not a laughing matter, and it probably makes more sense for the Panthers to just hold Stewart out for the rest of the regular season.

He’s going to miss this week’s game and isn’t practicing today, but the Panthers are still holding out hope that he can return in Week 17 against the rival Atlanta Falcons. The Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person reports that Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stated Stewart’s “earliest” return date would be that game against the Falcons.

While winning a division game would be nice and could be important if they need a tie-breaker win over the Saints for a playoff bye, the Panthers need to remember that Stewart’s health is their No. 1 priority. MCL sprains usually take at least three weeks to heal, and it’s best to wait longer with a chronically-injured player, especially with the playoffs looming ahead. The Panthers should also be able to defeat the Falcons with ease without Stewart, so they really shouldn’t play him in Week 17. It’s not a surprise to hear that Rivera is holding the door open on that, but I wouldn’t expect him to be back by then.

Stewart can safely be dropped in most fantasy leagues.

Topics: Carolina Panthers, Injury Report, Jonathan Stewart

Want more from NFL Spin Zone?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.
  • ahrcshaw

    Rivera is smart enough to keep him out, but it is going to be a major issue when looking forward to next year. Williams, Talbert, Stewart, and Barner? It would be nice to see what Barner can do, but with the wins needed to get to the playoffs the coaches do not want to miss use the reps for running. It is not a problem this year but it will be next year and I have mixed feelings. Go Panthers and pound those Saints.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Injuries are probably going to be a major issue for Stewart for the rest of his career, which is definitely sad, especially given his talent.

      • ahrcshaw

        There is no question about that now that he has had his surgery, the bigger problem he faces is Mr G, as I do not think Mr G will keep him if there is any signs that Barner can or will step up. The Panthers still have the problem of too good or too much RB talent and its costs. Willam’s is good and still productive but not the future, Talbert is not the back for the Panthers, he has the size, but not the skills. Barner, who knows and he has shown nothing so far as he has been injured all year. Stewart could possibly come out of this next year, and at this point that is about all they can do is keep him and hope for the best unless they want to start over building their running backs. Regardless of what is currently the situation, they should keep him off the field unless they are in dire need during the playoffs and that is providing he is capable of playing.

TEAMFeed More NFL Spin Zone news from the Fansided Network

Hot on the Web From golf.com