Two players that know their way around an exercise bike, have found themselves in a familiar place. OG Edmund Kugbila will miss the entire 2014 season due to a back injury, and RB Jonathan Stewart will miss a few weeks with a hamstring injury.
Kugbila was a gamble in the fourth round when he was selected, but injuries were not supposed to be what kept him from producing. The small-school road grading offensive guard was raw, but once he caught up to the speed of the game, he would pay dividends.
Much like Jeff Otah, Kugbila’s potential looks to be stifled by lingering injuries that will not go away.
Kugbila spent almost all of 2013 on the injured list due to a hamstring injury suffered early in the season. Now, a back injury has ended this year prematurely which will lead to speculation of his ability to stay healthy. Kugbila was entering 2014 with a shot at earning a spot on an offensive line that is littered with opportunities after a few departures this past offseason.
With the drafting of OG Trai Turner out of LSU this year, Kugbila is now on the outside looking in.
Jonathan Stewart is quite the enigma since being drafted out of Oregon in 2008. He was banged up coming out of college and has only played in 15 games over the past two seasons.
The injury does not seem to be too serious for Stewart as Training Camp opens tomorrow, but all reports prior to today had fans excited about him being healthy for the first time in awhile. Let’s hope the Panthers and Stewart are playing it safe and all he needs is a little rest. The former Oregon Duck is being counted on to supply that powerful counter-punch to DeAngelo Williams this season.
According to Jonathan Jones at The Charlotte Observer, the early reports are looking good for Stewart’s recovery. He talked with Ron Rivera and there was a lot of positivity from the Panthers’ Head Coach.
“(It’s) not as disheartening as I think people would think because he’s been doing a lot of good things. He had a good (organized team activities) and minicamp. He was working very hard,” Rivera said. “I talked to Jonathan (Wednesday) when he came in to see (head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion), and it didn’t seem or sound as serious as some hamstrings can be.”
As long as Stewart is healthy when the season opens on September 7th in Tampa, we can breathe a sigh of relief. Stewart is a big competitor and would much prefer to be in the starting lineup. With a rash of injuries to his ankles and knees, let’s hope that he can shake off this hamstring injury. Injuries like this can continue throughout the season and become re-injured.
Kugbila has never played a down in the NFL and it’s looking like that streak is not ending anytime soon. Stewart’s injury is frustrating, but it sounds like it should be taken care of in time for the Buccaneers.