CHARLOTTE -- DeAngelo Williams missed his second straight practice Thursday, increasing the likelihood Jonathan Stewart will start Sunday at running back against the St. Louis Rams (3-4).
Williams sprained his foot in the final minutes of Carolina’s 23-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers and hasn’t been on the field since.
Williams will be a game-time decision.
In three career starts Stewart has been extremely productive, averaging 150.3 rushing yards per game with three rushing touchdowns, including a franchise-record 206-yard performance against the New York Giants last December.
Coach John Fox reiterated Thursday that Williams is “day-to-day” and wouldn’t elaborate on the injury or Williams’ chances of playing.
When asked if he thinks Williams will play, Fox said, “If I knew that I'd probably be doing something else, like at the racetrack.”
“You always prefer to have everybody healthy, and we could have everybody healthy,” Fox added. “We'll make that evaluation; it usually goes to an hour and a half before kickoff.”
If Williams doesn’t play, Mike Goodson will likely see additional carries as the No. 2 back, while Tyrell Sutton would likely be used as a third-down back.
“He's a player we rely on,” Fox said of Goodson. “We use him in different situations aside from special teams. He's gotten his touches and will continue to do that. He's definitely gotten more practice time yesterday and today."
PANTHERS RUN DEFENSE: The Rams have their own concerns at running back as Steven Jackson was held out of practice again Thursday.
Jackson, who ranks fifth in the league in rushing with 617 yards, had surgery to repair his finger on Monday. Jackson told Rams beat reporters he does play to play against the Panthers. However, if Jackson can't go then Kenneth Darby will get the nod.
After doing a nice job against the run the first four games of the season, the Panthers have allowed Chicago’s Matt Forte and San Francisco’s Frank Gore to run for more than 100 yards the last two weeks.
“I think for the most part we’re doing a good job but it’s a play here or a play there,” linebacker James Anderson said. “We have to play solid defense and tackle well. He’s one of the better backs in the league so we have to be solid. We have to make sure people are in their gaps. Being a young team that’s one of the things we have to fix.”
NOTRE DAME TRAGEDY: Quarterback Jimmy Clausen expressed sadness over the death of Declan Sullivan, 20, a junior at Notre Dame who died while videotaping the Irish’s football practice on Wednesday when the tower he was filming from collapsed amidst high winds.
Clausen said he knew of Sullivan, but didn’t know him personally.
“It’s devastating,” Clausen said. “I talked to a lot of the guys on the team. It’s just a devastating tragedy and I just wish all of his family and friends my blessings. He’s definitely in my prayers I’m just praying for everybody at Notre Dame and hopefully they can get through this.”
Sullivan was a junior at Notre Dame, one year behind Clausen who would have been a senior had he stayed in college.
Sullivan’s Tweets described frightening weather conditions as he sat atop the hydraulic scissor lift, similar to the one the Panthers use during their practices. The tower that can be lowered or raised as needed.
“Gust of wind up to 60mph well today will be fun at work … I guess I’ve lived long enough :-/,” Sullivan posted on his Facebook page via Twitter. He sent a Tweet at 4:06 p.m. that described the situation as “terrifying.”
The camera tower eventually collapsed around 4:50 p.m., as winds in the area were gusting to 51 mph.
CATCHING UP: Clausen spoke with Rams quarterback Sam Bradford Wednesday night and plans to catch up with him on Saturday when the Panthers roll into St. Louis. The two rookies became friends at the NFL Scouting Combines this past January.
When asked if he’s going to make Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, buy him dinner, Clausen laughed and said, “He has a bigger signing bonus than anybody else coming into the league.”
DAVIS STILL HOPEFUL: Linebacker Thomas Davis reiterated that his goal is to be ready for the Nov. 14 game against Tampa Bay and that he remains “very optimistic” about playing this year. But for the first time Davis left open the possibility of not making it back on the field.
“That’s still my goal,” Davis said of playing this season. “If it happens, it happens. If it don’t then it was a nice go at it, you know?”