Stewart looks fast in PUP list comeback

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
3:15
PM ET
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than a few people noticed when Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart ran at close to full speed down the sideline during Monday's practice.

Stewart
It was the first time the former first-round pick out of Oregon tested his ankles like that since undergoing offseason surgery.

"And that was exciting,'' coach Ron Rivera said.

Said Stewart, who has struggled in particular with rehabbing the right ankle, "As good as it's felt in a while.''

So could Stewart be ready to come off the physically unable to perform list in two weeks and be ready for the Oct. 20 home game against the St. Louis Rams? Neither Stewart nor Rivera wanted to get too far ahead of themselves, but Monday's workout was encouraging.

"I'm on the coaching side,'' Rivera said. "We get excited about things. [Head trainer] Ryan Vermillion and his people, they've got to be realistic about it.

"But it was really nice to see him go full ... I shouldn't say full speed, but really open up.''

A healthy Stewart would open up a Carolina offense that already ranks third in the NFL in rushing with DeAngelo Williams carrying the bulk of the load (291 yards).

A healthy Stewart could mean a return to the days when Williams and Stewart were nicknamed "Double Trouble.''

Rivera said there have been times already this season where Williams could have used a break on long drives. He also reminded that "everything is eyeing to the postseason,'' so the Panthers (1-2) don't necessarily have to rush Stewart back. A more realistic chance of seeing Stewart might be in Week 8 or 9.

On target to return this week against Arizona is another former Oregon running back, Kenjon Barner, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury in the preseason finale.

Barner definitely will be used to spell Williams and give Carolina a different look with his breakaway speed.

"He's a very diverse football player,'' Rivera said of this year's sixth-round pick. "He has the ability to run the football and catch it, and he's learned how to pass protect. A lot of [how he's used] has to do with play calling and the flow.''

Not good enough: Much of the attention before a 38-0 victory over the New York Giants was on how well Carolina practiced after an 0-2 start.

Monday's first workout after the bye weekend wasn't that good.

"Practice was good, but it wasn't good enough, and I let them know that at the end,'' Rivera said. "They did some really good things, but as we talked about, to win football games we've got to practice the whole way.''

That may be especially true coming into a game against a 2-2 Arizona team that had to rally to beat winless Tampa Bay on Sunday.

"We've just got to make sure everybody is on the same page, everybody is pushing, because we have a chance to build momentum coming off a win,'' Rivera said.

Injury updates: Starting left cornerback Josh Thomas (concussion) has been cleared to play this week after being held out against New York. Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (thigh) and safety Quintin Mikell (ankle), who also missed the Giants game, were not in pads on Monday and did not practice in full. They will be evaluated again on Wednesday.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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