Panthers hopeful Jonathan Stewart will be ready

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The Panthers’ offense flat-lined yesterday for a number of reasons, beginning with Cam Newton not completing very many passes, and not having many viable options to throw them to.

But not having running back Jonathan Stewart didn’t help.

Stewart was inactive when his back tightened up Sunday morning, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday he was hopeful Stewart would be ready to go Sunday against the Saints in the wild card game.

No, I think Stew will be fine,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “He told me he’s feeling better already.”

When Stewart was asked about the injury yesterday, in the context of whether he could have played if it was a playoff game, he didn’t sound so encouraging.

“Nah, I don’t think so. It was tough,” Stewart said. “So I’ve just got to work my way back.”

The 30-year-old Stewart was more durable than normal this year, playing 15 games. But even though he had just 680 rushing yards and a 3.4-yards per carry average, the Panthers clearly need him to provide some balance to the offense, since they had just 12 carries for 30 yards from their other running backs.