Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart is on pace for his second 1,000-yard rushing season.
He has also rushed the ball at least 20 times in eight straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL by six games and the longest such streak in the league since the 2012 season.
Stewart said he’s not concerned about either statistic.
“I’m worried about winning these games,” Stewart said Thursday before repeating it two more times.
Stewart, who has 914 rushing yards on 232 carries this season, absorbs more hits than anyone else for the Panthers on a weekly basis, and he’s carrying the ball at a clip not seen in the league in more than three years.
Since the Week 5 bye, Stewart has carried the ball at least 20 times in each game. The second-longest active streak is two games by Oakland’s Latavius Murray, and only four players have a streak of three games this season.
If Stewart rushes at least 20 times this week against Atlanta, it’d mark the first time since 2007 that a running back had 20 touches in nine consecutive regular-season games.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera has talked recently about resting Stewart as the Panthers have now secured a playoff spot. But Rivera doesn’t want to ease up just yet until the team has locked down the No. 1 seed in the NFC, which cannot happen this week.
“When you’re in a situation where we have been and you’re trying to work toward something, you’re a little apprehensive to freely do those things, in my opinion. So you go with what’s working,” Rivera said. “Now as we’re in this position, I’ve got to look at each situation and decide what’s best for us. I’m talking to the coaches, trying to get their input on certain players because we have to be smart.”
Stewart’s 1,000 rushing yards this season would break that milestone for only the sixth time in Panthers’ history. He said even if it goes against the human condition to not care about individual goals, that’s the way he’s always been.
“Dare to be different,” Stewart said.