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New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers: 8:40 p.m. Monday (ESPN)

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Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart relying on ‘muscle memory’

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart has only been back for two games, but he says he’s already in the flow.

“The muscle memory comes back pretty quickly,” Stewart said. “Something you’ve been doing all your life, it doesn’t take that long for it to come back. Especially after a game like last week, a hard-fought game where you have to bring your ‘A’ game for four quarters, where you have to get after it in the trenches, a game like that really helps.”

Stewart has rushed 22 times for 84 yards this season, and caught three passes for 22 yards.

The Panthers have been monitoring his touches in his first two games of the 2013 season. Stewart’s recovery from offseason ankle surgeries kept him out of practice until Week 9. He spent the first seven games on the physically unable to perform list.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera has said DeAngelo Williams, the team’s leading rusher with 565 yards this season, is the starter, but that he plans to have a healthy rotation of Williams, Stewart and Mike Tolbert.

Stewart, who’s been in the backfield with Williams since 2008, said sharing carries isn’t an issue.

“It’s never really mattered. Coach Skip (running backs coach John Skipper) does a really good job of rotating me him and Tolbert in and out of the game. It’s been working. It doesn’t really matter as long as we get the W.”

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