Carolina Panthers Retrospective
NOTES: RB Stewart could have a chance to jump-start season if Williams doesn't play E-mail
Written by Steve Reed   
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:07
stew

Jonathan Stewart has had a tough time finding daylight this year. (Photo by John Clark)

   CHARLOTTE – Running back DeAngelo Williams was held out of Wednesday’s because of a sprained foot, raising some doubt as to his availability for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
   Williams injured his foot on the final minutes of Carolina’s 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but it’s not believed to be serious.
   Even if Williams doesn’t play Sunday, the Panthers should be fine as running back is their deepest position. Jonathan Stewart would start, while Mike Goodson and Tyrell Sutton would work in off the bench.
   Stewart is off to a rough start this season. 
   Through six games Stewart has just 148 yards and one rushing touchdown and is averaging a mere 4 yards per carry. That’s a dramatic drop from last season when Stewart led the team with 1,133 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
   In his final three games last year, Stewart ran for 109, 206 and 125 yards.
   This year, he’s not rushed for more than 43 yards in a game.
   When asked for the reason in the drop in production, Stewart said “I don’t know, many things,” but wouldn’t elaborate.
   Stewart said injuries aren’t a problem.
   He hasn’t missed a practice since the regular season began after missing numerous practices the previous two seasons and said he feels healthier this year than he did in 2009.
   Of course, Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have had added pressure facing eight- and nine-man fronts throughout the season. The Panthers also have a new fullback in Tony Fiammetta, who replaced Brad Hoover.
   “Instead of building up frustrations I have to believe in the guys in front of us that things will eventually starting opening up,” Stewart said. “And that’s not just the guys up front but the entire offense doing their job. It’s a collective deal.”
   Stewart said he’s optimistic that last Sunday’s win over San Francisco will force teams to honor Carolina’s passing game, thus preventing teams from putting extra men in the box.
   Recently, DeAngelo Williams joked that he’d be “offended” if a defense only put seven men in the box against him.
   Stewart not so much.
   “You try to take advantage of it so I don't mind seeing seven in the box. I don't mind being offended,” Stewart said with a laugh.
   ROSTER MOVE: Linebacker Jamar Williams’ season came to an end Wednesday when the Panthers placed him on injured reserve.  Williams has not played since suffering a spinal concussion in a Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
   "He's been a little bit symptomatic still from that injury, and this is one of those types of injuries where you err on the side of caution," coach John Fox said. "It was going to be probably six to eight weeks before he could respond, so we went ahead and made that move and he'll continue doing his rehab."
   The Panthers signed linebacker Abdul Hodge to take his roster spot.
   The 6-foot, 236-pound Hodge played in 30 games with one start in four NFL seasons with Green Bay and Cincinnati, posting 20 tackles, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery on defense. But he’s primarily been used on special teams where he’s logged 19 tackles and one forced fumble. He had been released by Cincinnati in the final roster cutdown on Sept. 4.
    Hodge was originally a third-round draft choice (67th overall) by the Packers in 2006.
   ANDERSON ACTIVE: One of the big surprises this season for the Panthers has been outside linebacker James Anderson, who leads the team with 70 tackles and has two sacks, three quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles and an interception.
   “He's gotten more opportunities,” Fox said of Anderson, who now remains in the game on most third-down situations. “James has been primarily a backup. He stepped in last year when Thomas Davis got hurt in the New Orleans game. I think he gained valuable experience and confidence during that period of time. With the injury to Thomas again this offseason, he's stepped in and he's taken advantage of his opportunities. And that's what this league is about.”
   INJURY UPDATE: Along with Williams, the Panthers were without tackle Jeff Otah (knee) and defensive end Tyler Brayton (personal reasons) on Wednesday. Brayton is expected to return to practice Thursday.