The Carolina Panthers have been without their top running back, Jonathan Stewart, for the past two weeks and have gone to a running back committee. One of those key players was Fozzy Whittaker but his availability is in question after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Atlanta Falcons.
Head coach Ron Rivera talked to the media on Monday and said that he was a "week by week situation" and that they "will see how he is after this week." This certainly sounds like Rivera is not expecting Whittaker this week and did say that this should give Cameron Artis-Payne and Mike Tolbert more opportunities in the backfield.
The one positive though is that the team could have Stewart back for what is now a pivotal game against the Bucs that will determine if the Panthers will have the first or second seed in the NFC playoffs.
Rivera was asked if it is more tempting now to start Stewart and the Panthers' head coach responded with a simple "Yes." He did go on to say that the team will have to re-assess Stewart and see how he is Wednesday.
The offense would love to have him back for this game but the Panthers will most likely continue to err on the side of the caution because Stewart is going to be more vital come playoff time. If Stewart is not able to go, the team will most likely activate Brandon Wegher for the first time this season.