After his best game of the season, Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart will get a chance for an encore on Sunday.
Stewart will be the starter this week with running back DeAngelo Williams listed as out with a hand injury.
Against Minnesota, Stewart rushed 12 times for 85 yards, an average of 7.1 yards per carry. With Williams nursing a fractured hand and unable to grip the ball firmly, Stewart should get the majority of the carries this week. But Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’ll also use Fozzy Whittaker to spell Stewart.
“We’d like to give Jonathan the right amount of carries depending on the flow of the game,” Rivera said. “Fozzy will get in. There are some things Fozzy does that we’ve seen and we like. He’s going to have to get on the football field. He’s shown he’s a playmaker when he gets the ball in his hands.”
Injury update: Along with Williams, guard Amini Silatolu is out with a knee injury.
Tight end Greg Olsen practiced in a limited capacity Friday with a swollen knee after missing Wednesday’s practice and being limited on Thursday. Rivera is confident Olsen will start in his 123rd consecutive game.
“He’s a mentally tough young man, a physically tough young man,” Rivera said. “He’s done a lot of good things. He’s having a great year, all things considered. He’s certainly been a bright spot for us. He’ll be out there come Sunday.”
Center Ryan Kalil and defensive end Kony Ealy, both of whom were battling stomach bugs, felt better on Friday and are probable. Defensive end Mario Addison (foot) and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (ankle) are also probable.
Looking fine: Quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Josh Norman were both fined for violating the league’s dress code policy during last week’s game against Minnesota.
Newton wore predominantly silver cleats during the loss, which goes against the league’s dress code. Because he’s a repeat offender, Newton was fined $16,537 for the violation, according to a league source.
Last year Newton was fined $10,000 for wearing Under Armour visor clips that were not permitted by the league.
Norman also was fined $11,025 for wearing predominantly silver cleats. Norman said earlier this week he will appeal the fine because he was told the cleats were within the rules of the policy. Norman was not fined for a taunting penalty he received during the game.
Return game: De’Andre Presley could get his first crack at punt returning against the Saints, but it likely won’t be easy.
The Saints are the league’s best in defending punt returns, allowing just 3.5 yards per return.
The Panthers wanted to use Presley last week at punt return, but with the wind and cold in Minneapolis, Rivera decided to stay with the sure-handed Brenton Bersin.
Rivera expects Presley will at least get one chance at a return Sunday.
“They punt the ball very well in the dome,” Rivera said. “Their punter has done a nice job for them. It’s just a matter of making sure we get the catch, and then we’ll see what happens.”