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Carolina Panthers Lose Jonathan Stewart For Season To Torn MCL

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By Shawn Lealos

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 8:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers is sacked during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints defeated the Panthers 31-13.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Credit, Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The Carolina Panthers were one of the hottest teams in the NFL, winning eight straight, before falling to the New Orleans Saints last weekend. While the loss did not kill the Panthers chances of winning the NFC South title, it did toughen things up. They need to rebound quickly as they play an always pesky New York Jets team this week before welcoming the Saints to Charlotte for their second match-up.

The biggest loss for the Panthers in their defeat at the hands of the Saints was Jonathan Stewart, who tore his MCL in the game. Stewart, who missed most of the season already, is now lost for the rest of the year and has said that he hopes to return next season for Carolina. With an injury plagued career since signing his nice contract with the team, there is a good chance his time in Carolina might be over with.

Stewart’s loss means that DeAngelo Williams will shoulder the load against the Jets, which is a tough break for a team who works best with multiple backs running the ball. Williams has only hit 64 yards once, since opening the first three weeks of the season on fire, and has only two touchdowns on the year. Mike Tolbert might get more looks this week without Stewart in the lineup as well. He usually only gets a handful of touches a game, but has four touchdowns on the year.

Tight end Greg Olsen is also playing with a knee injury but had eight receptions last weekend on 12 targets, and after returning to practice on Thursday, he should be good-to-go.

Guard Chris Scott has missed five straight games with a knee injury, but returned to full practice this week for the first time since the injury and will get back into the rotation as soon as he returns. Whether he returns this week or not is still up for question. Linebacker Jordan Senn also came back to practice but was sick and was sent home so not to infect the team.

The New York Jets have been struggling with injuries all season to their wide receiver corps, which has stunted rookie Geno Smith’s growth at quarterback. The team learned this week that top wide out Stephen Hill might actually be finished for the season with his knee problems. Santonio Holmes, who has been dealing with a variety of injuries as well, will play this weekend and has been talking trash about the Panthers secondary to prove he will be on the field.

Safety Ed Reed also missed practice on Thursday—Rex Ryan said it was not because of an injury, but just to give the veteran some extra rest.

Also limited in practice this week was cornerback Antonio Cromartie and tight end Kellen Winslow. Cromartie just has to pass concussion tests to get back on the field and Winslow will definitely play.

Injury Report

Carolina Panthers

  • Chandler, Nate (T) – Elbow
  • Edwards, Dwan (DT) – Non-Injury
  • Gross, Jordan (T) – Non-Injury
  • Olsen, Greg (TE) – Knee
  • Scott, Chris (G) – Knee
  • Senn, Jordan (LB) – Hamstring/Illness
  • Stewart, Jonathan (RB) – Knee
  • Wharton, Travelle (G) – Non-Injury

New York Jets

  • Cromartie, Antonio (CB) – Hip/Concussion
  • Davis, Demario (LB) – Thumb
  • Ellis, Kenrick (DT) – Back
  • Hill, Stephen (WR) – Knee
  • Holmes, Santonio (WR) – Foot/Hamstring
  • Kerley, Jeremy (WR) – Elbow
  • McIntyre, Garrett (LB) – Knee
  • Nelson, David (WR) – Ribs
  • Reed, Ed (S) – Non-Injury
  • Salas, Greg (WR) – Finger
  • Wilkerson, Muhammad (DL) – Wrist
  • Winslow, Kellen (TE) – Knee

For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.

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