Jonathan Stewart has been injury-plagued since being drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2008. A yearly tradition has been to see Stewart fail to practice prior to the season, only to prove his effectiveness in September. However, an injury-riddled 2012 season has carried over into training camp, with the team announcing that Stewart will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list.
The Panthers running back underwent surgery this offseason to clear up long-standing issues in both ankles, with the hopes of having Stewart ready for the team's training camp. His withdrawal from a charity golfing tournament in early-July foreshadowed that he may need to miss time early in training camp.
Head coach Ron Rivera remains confident in Stewart's ability, despite this latest setback.
"When Jonathan is ready to go we'll get him back on the football field. His rehab has been going very well."
The Panthers will turn to DeAngelo Williams in his absence. Williams started his 2012 campaign poorly, but vastly increased his production when Stewart was lost to injured reserve. This back-end of the season culminated with a dominant 210-yard game against the New Orleans Saints in the final game of the season.
Carolina has rookie talent too, selecting Kenjon Barner out of Oregon with the team's 6th round pick. He'll play primary in a scat back role, supplementing the team's read-option offense. There's a good chance he could be turned to quickly if Stewart is unable to play at the beginning of the regular season.