A little less than a month ago, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman wouldn't give a firm answer when asked about Jonathan Stewart 's availability for the start of training camp. Head coach Ron Rivera was asked about Stewart today, and he too didn't do much to clear the fog surrounding the situation. Rivera said Stewart is "progressing well" following offseason surgery on both ankles, but he wouldn't say if Stewart will be present when Carolina opens camp July 25.
Stewart underwent surgery on his left ankle in mid-January. I'm not sure when surgery was performed on the right ankle, but the lack of optimism here is concerning. Right now, I would assume Stewart won't be around for at least the first couple of days of camp. Stewart is one of my favorite RBs to draft because he could very well be the Panthers' top rusher this year, and you can wait until the seventh or eighth round to take him. The drawbacks to owning Stewart are obvious: He's had problems with both feet throughout his career, Cam Newton steals a lot of short-yardage touchdowns, and the backfield is a crowded right now with DeAngelo Williams , Mike Tolbert and Kenjon Barner all on the roster. But I think Stewart is a bargain at his current average draft position if he can get healthy. We'll let you know when that day comes. It sounds like you shouldn't hold your breath.