The Carolina Panthers announced today that starting running back Jonathan Stewart will miss the team’s game at the New York Giants this coming Sunday. Stewart left last week’s 38-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons early after scoring a touchdown on ten carries.
2015 has been a career year for Stewart, who currently sits at third in the league in total rushing yards, behind Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin. Stewart’s career-best 76.1 rushing yards per game had him on pace to post a career-best in rushing yards, which came all the way back in 2009, when he had 1,133 yards on the season. That remains the only time that Stewart has gone for more than 1,000 rushing yards in any one year.
The move is perhaps the first indication that the Panthers would value going into the playoffs at full health over potentially finishing the season with a 16-0 record. With long-time Panther DeAngelo Williams now playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina does not have a clear back-up behind Stewart. Fullback Mike Toblert has not received any more than seven carries in any one games this season; Fozzy Whitaker has eighteen carries on the season; and fifth-round rookie Cameron Artis-Payne has twelve carries on the season, with none since October.
The Panthers have scored more than thirty points in each of their last four games, including two performances of better than 40 points. After traveling to New York, the Panthers finish their season with a game in Atlanta, and then will host Tampa Bay in Week 17.