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Panthers’ Jonathan Stewart (knee) feeling ‘pretty comfortable’

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart is quietly recovering from a knee sprain and said Monday he feels “pretty comfortable.”

Stewart, in his sixth season, hasn’t practiced since spraining his MCL against the Saints on Dec. 8, but said he expects to practice on Wednesday.

The Panthers face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in the second round of the NFC playoffs.

“It’s all up to what the trainers think about how I practice on Wednesday,” said Stewart about his availability for Sunday’s home playoff game against the 49ers. “I can’t get ahead of myself.”

Stewart ran on the sideline during practice Monday after weeks of rehab inside the building. He said he’s been running at full speed with little to no pain since last week.

“Since Thursday I’ve been running more and more and I’ve gotten more comfortable as I’ve been going,” Stewart said.

Stewart had 180 yards on 48 rushes during an injury-shortened regular season. He missed the first eight weeks of the season recovering from offseason ankle surgery before missing the final three games of the season.

Running back DeAngelo Williams is the expected starter no matter Stewart’s health for Sunday.

Tight end Ben Hartsock (knee) and safety Quintin Mikell (thumb) also practiced Monday. Mikell has practiced with a cast on his right hand since last week.

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