Last week, Panthers coach Ron Rivera described himself as “pretty optimistic” about running back Jonathan Stewart playing in the season opener against the Seahawks.
Rivera cited the work that Stewart had been doing over the previous few days as the reason for his optimism, but he sounded a lot less hopeful when asked about Stewart’s progress on Tuesday. Rivera said that it was a possibility that Stewart’s surgically-repaired ankles would not recover in time for him to come off the PUP list before the start of the regular season.
“At this point anything is an option,” Rivera said, via the Associated Press. “What you’re hoping is you can get him on the football field and we’ll see once the doctor gets a chance to look at him. You’d love to have him but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes. It’s going to take a little time.”
If Stewart were to stay on the PUP list, he’d be out for at least the first six weeks of the regular season a year after he missed seven Panthers games. That would represent a big chunk of time for a player who signed an extension that made him a significant piece of the offensive scheme before last season and a big obstacle for the Panthers to overcome in their push to become a more effective running team.