After recently signing a five-year extension worth $36.5 million, the last thing anyone in the Carolina Panthers organization wanted to see was running back Jonathan Stewart being carted off the field due to injury during the preseason.
Unfortunately, that was the case, as Stewart was carted off the field after suffering a sprained ankle late in the first half of the teams 17-12 win over the New York Jets Sunday night in the Meadowlands.
The injury happened on a rushing attempt by Stewart on first-and-goal at the Jets 9 yard line. Stewart was hit hard by Jets safety LaRon Landry at the 2-yard-line and was slow to get up.
After trainers looked at Stewart’s right leg, he was immediately carted off to the locker room. He was on crutches in the Panthers locker room following the game. Stewart did not return to the sideline and finished the night with 24 yards on eight carries.
“It looked like he had a twisted ankle, sprained it a little bit,“ explained head coach Ron Rivera. “We’re going to be very careful with it obviously. We got X-rays, completely negative. So we feel very good about that and we’ll see how he feels in the morning. … I’ll tell you now, he’s not going to play on Thursday [in the preseason finale at Pittsburgh].”
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The injury was a high ankle sprain, meaning it is usally a little harder to shake than other kinds of ankle sprains.
The injury marked Stewart’s second in as many weeks that have forced him to leave the game. He left in the second quarter of Carolina’s Aug. 17 game with Miami after suffering a leg calf injury.
Certainly, the Panthers will take their time with the second leading rusher in franchise history. Stewart also holds the club record for single-game rushing yards with 206 against the New York Giants back in 2009.
Carolina opens the season at Tampa Bay on Sept. 9.