Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Jonathan Stewart expected to return

Although related toe and ankle injuries kept Carolina Panthers star running back Jonathan Stewart out of the team’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the New York Giants, head coach Ron Rivera expects Stewart to be ready to play in Week 4 against the rival Atlanta Falcons, per a tweet from Steve Reed.

Rivera also expects linebacker Jon Beason, quarterback Cam Newton, and right tackle Byron Bell to play against the Falcons.

The short week was the main reason why Stewart was unable to play against the Giants, as he did not have ample enough time to heal from those injuries. It’s no surprise that Stewart should be good to go in Week 4, and we’ll see if Stewart is able to practice fully when official practices begin on Wednesday.

DeAngelo Williams was able to put forth a solid YPC average, but the Panthers rushing offense faltered in the absence of their second punch in the top running back duo. Stewart has missed two games this season, and the Panthers running game has amassed just 70 yards in both of those games with Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being extremely brutal without the Oregon Ducks product.

It’s great to hear that Jonathan Stewart is expected to play on Sunday, and the Panthers will definitely need him against a tough Falcons team that has gotten off to a great start so far in 2012.

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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