- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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A look at a player who gave his team a significant boost in Week 15.
In a lot of ways, running back Jonathan Stewart is the perfect example of what could have been for the Carolina Panthers this season. Like a lot of other talented players on this roster, Stewart hasn’t had the season he wanted or the Panthers envisioned.
Injuries were a big reason why. Stewart has had chronic foot and leg problems pretty much since coming into the NFL, but always was able to play through them. This year, he missed some time and wasn’t all that effective early on. Some of that was due to injury and some was due to Carolina's quarterback problems allowing defenses to focus solely on Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
But Stewart has gotten healthy in recent weeks and his performance in Sunday’s victory against Arizona was a reminder of how good a running back he is when he’s healthy and things are going right for the rest of the offense. Yes, it came against a horrible team, but Stewart’s play was the major reason why the Panthers were able to end a seven-game losing streak.
Stewart’s 27 carries for 137 yards marked season highs for him in both categories. His running also took the heat off Jimmy Clausen and allowed the rookie quarterback to have one of his more efficient games. More important, Stewart's performance allowed the Panthers to get a win.