Stewart out vs. Atlanta; Panthers Not Fazed by Odd Week

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCCB Charlotte) — There’s no drama surrounding running back Jonathan Stewart’s availability for Sunday’s game against Atlanta–Ron Rivera has ruled him out.

But that didn’t stop the coach from providing an upbeat view on the progress of Stewart.

“He’s coming along very nicely,” Rivera said of Stewart’s foot injury that will now hold the pro bowl running back out of a second straight game. “He’s doing the things he’s supposed to be doing. But I’m going to put it out there. He will be out.”

It could also be that Rivera and the Panthers are allowing Stewart a full month to heal before the next truly, meaningful game–a divisional round playoff game the second week of January. Stewart last saw action in the first half of the Week 14 win over Atlanta where he rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown while only seeing first half action.


Not Taking Falcons Lightly

Carolina has won five of the last six meetings with the Falcons including two straight blowouts by a combined 72-3. With that being said, the team expects a hard-fought game from the reeling Falcons who snapped a six game losing streak last week with a 23-17 win over Jacksonville.

“We have to look back at the first game and see what they like to do,” rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson said. “They might run some different stuff at home. We have to just prepare.”

“We are not going to automatically show up and win 38-0 again,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “That’s not how this thing works. It’s probably going to be even harder to win. We understand what’s ahead of us and we’ll come ready to play.”


Odd Week not Fazing Carolina

Ron Rivera has followed a formula where he gives the players and coaches Christmas Day off provided it doesn’t fall on a travel or game-day.  The rain in the Charlotte area threw a further wrench into practice plans this week as the team ran through drills on Wednesday at a ballroom in the Charlotte Convention Center.

On Thursday, Rivera said he upped the tempo.

“We have gotten the same work this week,” Olsen said. “I think our preparation was good. We went pretty hard today to fine-tune some things. We do a good job of maximizing the physically light days. We do a good job of dialing in and making those reps count. This time of year those reps are really valuable.”

Falcons Odd Injury

According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.Com, the Falcons back-up running back slipped in the shower and is currently in the concussion protocol. His availability for Sunday’s game is currently unclear.