Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart to miss first 6 weeks on PUP list
The Panthers also put rookie guard Edmund Kugbila, its fourth-round pick, on the injured reserve with a knee injury and waived injured defensive tackle Frank Kearse as well as last year’s fourth-round pick, wide receiver Joe Adams. If Kearse and Adams clear waivers, they will revert to the Panthers’ injured reserve.
Meanwhile, NFL rules stipulate that Stewart remains ineligible to practice or play with the Panthers for six weeks. While Stewart will miss six weeks, he can still play in the Panthers’ sixth game of the season in Week 7, since they have a bye in Week 4. The Panthers face the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 20 in Week 7.
"I'm just taking it day by day and trying to be there for my teammates and bring as much positive energy as I can," Stewart said. "We have a long season ahead of us and I plan to be back in week six."
Panther coach Ron Rivera remains “optimistic” that Stewart will be able to return from the ankle injury by Week 7.
"Some real good things have happened but they aren't going to happen soon enough," Rivera said, adding doctors believe Stewart has a long rehabilitation ahead of him.
Rivera classified Stewart’s injury as an ankle sprain. Stewart hasn’t practiced at all since undergoing offseason surgery on both of his ankles.
Stewart said the Panthers’ decision to place him on the PUP list came after he met Dr. James Anderson, the team’s physician, earlier on Tuesday. This is the second straight season where Stewart will miss extensive time due to an injury. Last season, Stewart rushed for 336 yards and one touchdowns, both career-lows, after he was limited to nine games, upon missing the final five with a sprained ankle.
"I can spend all of my energy being disappointed,” Stewart said, “or I can spend all of my energy getting ready for week six.”
The Panthers are also awaiting word on fullback Mike Tolbert, who has missed all preseason with a hamstring injury. Tolbert remains uncertain for the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, but Rivera has intentions of additional help at running back.
"We feel good about young guys that we have," Rivera noted. "They'll see a dose of action in this last preseason game and we'll see what they're capable of."