Jonathan Stewart unlikely to be ready for season opener

USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers' running back will consult with his doctor to determine when he'll be ready for action.

Jonathan Stewart's status has been held close to the Carolina Panthers' organization. Head coach Ron Rivera has offered little in the way of information on the running back, who's returning from off season surgery on both ankles.

Stewart will meet with Dr. Robert Anderson to assess his rehabilitation and determine when he'll be able to return to action -- according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Stewart was placed on the Panthers' preseason PUP list and was unable to participate in training camp, or OTAs.

Carolina has not given up hope that he'll be ready for their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks, but Schefter notes that this probably isn't realistic. The Panthers are looking to take pressure off Cam Newton by utilizing their running game more. They have talent in the backfield with DeAngelo Williams and rookie Kenjon Barner -- but both players fit the home run mold, rather than being reliable every-down runners.

The Panthers have two more opportunities to test their running backs before the beginning of the regular season. Thursday's game against the Baltimore Ravens will be a good test, as will the team's final game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Panthers' offense is much better when both of its primary running backs are healthy, and the loss of Stewart early could hurt the beginning of their 2013 campaign.

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