Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera expects DeAngelo Williams, the franchise’s all-time leading rusher, to return to practice Wednesday after Carolina sputtered on the ground Sunday against the Detroit Lions.
Williams missed Sunday’s 24-7 win against the Lions with a thigh injury. He worked on Monday and will work out against Tuesday, and he should rejoin the team at practice for the first time in a week on Wednesday.
Carolina had 62 yards on 24 rushes Sunday, a paltry 2.6 yards per carry average. Jonathan Stewart, who took 44 of the 67 snaps, rushed 15 times for 37 yards and one touchdown.
Those yards didn’t come without a fight, either.
“It was a tough day. It really was,” Rivera said. “You’d like to be better at. What Jonathan did in terms of yards after contact was pretty impressive. Everything from the (22-yard) swing pass to the runs he had after first contact, he kept the feet churning and picked up the tough yards.”
Carolina’s 62-yard performance Sunday was its worst rushing total since the Panthers posted 52 yards on the ground against Denver in Week 10 of the 2012 season.
Only twice did the Panthers fail to reach the 100-yard mark during the regular season last year.
The Panthers often relied on quarterback Cam Newton’s legs to supplement their rushing numbers, but his four rushes for 19 yards weren’t enough Sunday. He led the team in rushing in five games in 2013.
Though he didn’t have great rushing stats, Newton showed he wasn’t afraid to take off and run despite cracked ribs and surgically repaired ankle that’s still on the mend.
“His foot’s a little bit sore, which is a good thing because it’s more sore than his back,” Rivera said. “Which is good, at least I think it’s good. He’s moving around pretty good and he’s feeling pretty good about himself. I thought he played a heckuva football game.”
The news wasn’t as good for No. 4 running back Fozzy Whittaker. He suffered a quad injury and is week-to-week.
Fullback Mike Tolbert took a big shot to the chest when Nick Fairley hit him for a loss of 4 yards in the fourth quarter. He suffered a contusion and hyperventilated on the field, Rivera said.
Asked if he was OK, Tolbert gave a thumbs up in the locker room Monday afternoon.