Panthers' Stewart, Ginn to face Seattle
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said running back Jonathan Stewart, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and safety Kurt Coleman will play Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC divisional playoffs.
All three starters participated fully in practice Wednesday.
”Those guys got a lot of good work in and (the bye week) served its purpose,” Rivera said.
Getting Stewart back will be a huge plus for the Panthers against the league’s No. 1 ranked run defense.
Stewart ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns in Carolina’s 27-23 win over Seattle on Oct. 18.
The Pro Bowl running back ran for 989 yards and six touchdowns before injuring his foot in Week 14 and missing the final three weeks of the regular season. Still, Carolina stretched its string of consecutive 100-yard rushing games to 27 without him.
The Panthers have the league’s No. 2-ranked running game.
”We feel good about him,” Rivera said of Stewart. ”No limitations.”
Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (leg) and safety Kurt Coleman (foot) also returned to work after sitting out Week 17, a game in which the Panthers beat Tampa Bay to clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Ginn caught 44 passes this season for the Panthers – including a team-high 10 touchdown receptions – and averaged 16.6 yards per catch. He gives the Panthers a deep threat that can help stretch the defense and open things up for tight end Greg Olsen to operate underneath the coverage.
Coleman tied for second in the league in interceptions with seven.
”That’s good – it felt right out there” at practice, quarterback Cam Newton said of having Stewart and Ginn back in the huddle.
”Ted is looking fast and Jonathan is looking strong. That’s what you want to see.”
The only player who did not practice Wednesday for the Panthers was backup running back Fozzy Whittaker, who could still miss another week or so while recovering from a high ankle sprain.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL