Jonathan Stewart says he’s ready to play

AP

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart finally returned to practice last week after having surgery on his ankle over the offseason. Stewart had missed the first six weeks of the season while on the physically unable to perform list.

According to Steve Reed of the Associated Press, Stewart says he’s ready to get back on the field and is hopeful he’ll play this week against the Atlanta Falcons.

Stewart has been sidelined since suffering the ankle injury in late November of last year. He remains on the physically unable to perform list though he is allowed to practice with the team. He will need to be activated to the 53-man roster by Saturday in order to play against the Falcons.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Stewart “had a good day” of practice and “will be ready if needed.” If Stewart’s able to play, he’ll join an already crowded backfield. DeAngelo Williams is ranked 10th in the league in rushing with 477 yards on the year. The Panthers also have veteran Mike Tolbert and rookie Kenjon Barner to split carries with as well.

Stewart had 93 carries for 336 yards and a touchdown last season before going down with the injury.