Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams likely won’t play in Carolina’s game Sunday against Tampa Bay.
The franchise’s all-time leading rusher will likely miss his second consecutive game with a broken bone in his right hand, even though he practiced Thursday for the first time since he injured his hand two weeks ago at Minnesota.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Williams is “probably” another week from returning to game action. Williams had his hand in a cast during practice and carried the ball with his left during the portion of practice open to the media.
“He ran a couple of plays just to stay fresh in it,” Rivera said. “They built the cast for him. He handled the ball. We didn’t throw him the ball but he had a couple of handoffs so it’s good to see him back out there trying to get comfortable again. You never know what’s going to happen with us so the key is to stay ready and prepared.”
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Williams declined to talk with the media Thursday, but he did a mock interview around the media with fullback Mike Tolbert asking questions, a la Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and former Seattle fullback Michael Robinson.
“I felt pretty good, man,” Williams said. “Everything went well. Got my legs back up under me. Felt great.”
Getting his second straight start will be running back Jonathan Stewart, who’s running the ball about as well as he has in the past four injury-plagued seasons.
In the past two games, Stewart has rushed for 240 yards, including a 155-yard performance last week against the Saints. Stewart’s yardage the past two games has already eclipsed Williams’ total of 219 yards in a year where he’s dealt with hamstring, ankle and now hand injuries.
“It’s been a tough season so far,” Stewart said. “But I think it’s starting to rev up the way we want it to. So we just have to make sure we continue to do our job.”
Against the Saints, Stewart had his second-biggest rushing totalsince the 2010 season. He’s dealt with numerous ankle and knee injuries since 2012, but he’s as healthy now as he’s been in years.
For Tolbert, it was great to see that from his teammate and friend.
“He’s a high-energy guy like the rest of the running backs in that room,” Tolbert said. “To see one of our guys excel and make those type of plays. It was definitely exciting. If you look at the film I was on the sideline but I’m trying to run down there with him (on the touchdown). I almost ran into the ref so I had to stop.”