During head coach Ron Rivera's press conference on Wednesday, he announced that Carolina Panthers' running back Jonathan Stewart is 'more than likely' to miss Sunday's game in New York against the Giants due a foot injury suffered against the Atlanta Falcons. Rivera said that Stewart went for an MRI on Monday and as a precaution the team has him in a walking boot.
With Stewart out Sunday, Fozzy Whittaker or Mike Tolbert will get the start based on personnel called at the beginning of the game according to Rivera. He also did mention this game would be an opportunity for Cameron Artis-Payne to get some work in. The fifth-round rookie has been inactive for most of the season and has played only one snap since Week 4.
To say Stewart is a big part of this offense would be an understatement and whoever steps into the backfield is going to have huge shoes to fill. The Panthers' running back is currently second in the league in rushing attempts (242) and third in rushing yards (989). Prior to the Falcons game, Stewart had eight straight games of 20 or more rushing attempts and has carried the ball more than the rest of the offense combined by 39 carries.
This game certainly presents a great opportunity for Artis-Payne to see some extended work and show the coaching staff what he is capable of during live action. The rookie has a similar body type to Stewart and can be an effective between-the-tackles runner which means Mike Shula may not need to change the game plan too much with Stewart out.