Charlotte, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan
Stewart was diagnosed with a medial collateral ligament tear in his right knee
Monday, an injury that could sideline him for the remainder of the regular
Stewart exited Sunday's 31-13 loss at NFC South-rival New Orleans in the third
quarter after taking a shot to the knee from Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis at
the end of a catch. The Panthers have already ruled the six-year veteran out
for this weekend's game against the New York Jets and he'll almost certainly
miss the following week as well, though the team is hopeful he'll be available
for its Week 17 matchup at Atlanta on Dec. 29.
"We'll get a better feel for it in the next 10 days," Panthers head coach Ron
Rivera said on Monday. "It wasn't the ACL -- that much I know, which is huge.
Very happy for Jonathan that there is a bit of good news."
The Panthers are deep at the running back position, with starter DeAngelo
Williams having produced a pair of 1,000-yard seasons over his career and
fullback Mike Tolbert capable of contributing as well. Those two received the
majority of the backfield work with Stewart sidelined for the season's first
seven games while recovering from surgeries on each of his ankles.
Since being activated from the physically unable to perform list in early
November, Stewart had rushed for 180 yards on 48 carries while adding seven
receptions totaling 44 yards.
Carolina also could opt to hold out Stewart until the playoffs if it's able to
reach the postseason. The Panthers are currently tied with San Francisco for
the two wild card spots in the NFC, with Arizona one game back with three to
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