By Danny Cox
The Carolina Panthers are sitting at 2-3 and have the chance to move up to .500 as they face the St. Louis Rams this upcoming weekend. While the Rams can be dangerous at times, the Panthers appeared to be back in old form and showing that they can run up the score while containing the opposing team with their defense.
It never hurts to have another weapon, and running back Jonathan Stewart would be a great one to have. The only problem is that he hasn’t played yet this season due to a nagging right ankle injury. He ended up on the physically unable to perform list which makes him available to play this week.
The question is … should the Panthers push him back if he isn’t 100 percent?
Against the Vikings on Sunday, the Panthers had 131 yards on the ground. DeAngelo Williams led the way with 64 yards. Cam Newton had 30 yards and a rushing touchdown. Mike Tolbert had 27 yards and a touchdown as well. The rushing game is adequate right now, and may not yet need Stewart.
The Rams currently have the 30th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, and it isn’t like they can really stop anyone. That kind of opens the door for Newton and Williams to run all over them.
That being the case; it may not be necessary to have Stewart return to game-action at this time. He admits that there is some pain even though he says he is at “a manageable place right now to where I can play that way.”
He’s anxious to get back onto the field and get into game-shape, but the Panthers may need him in the long run if their season gets to a point where the playoffs are on the line. Bringing Stewart back too soon could cause further damage to his ankle and possibly sideline him for a few more weeks or even the entire rest of the season.
There is no mistaking that fans would love to see the “Bash and Dash” combo of Williams and Stewart back on the field together. Stewart also wants to be the one to fill in, produce, and help the rushing game when others get beat up or tired.
Carolina currently has the eighth-ranked rushing offense in the league without Stewart playing one single down this season. They’re about to go up against one of the worst run defenses in the entire league.
Let Jonathan Stewart sit on the sidelines even though it may pain him to watch his teammates out there without him. It would be better to go one more week with Stewart in sweats rather than the rest of the season without him at all.
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.