Jonathan Stewart has had quite an up-and-down career so far in his first five years. The former first round draft pick from 2008, is now entering a crucial season with the Carolina Panthers in 2013.
There are two things that can describe Stewart’s career thus far – shared time and injuries. The shared time has come in the form of backfield teammate DeAngelo Williams, while injuries have kept Stewart from truly breaking out. Both running backs will be returning to the Carolina backfield in 2013, but this might finally be the year when the younger Stewart distances himself from Williams. Both backs have complimented each other well so far in their careers, but it’s just time for Stewart to fully embrace the No. 1 role.
As we head into training camp this year, Stewart is oddly enough disputing rumors that he has cancer. The Sporting News had him listed as out indefinitely with cancer, which the RB quickly disputed on Twitter. The website has issued a correction to the report, and it’s now clear that is was just a mistake.
This season is all about staying healthy for Stewart. He can’t afford to miss any more extended time, as there’s a big $9 million dollar option in his contract for 2014. If he can’t show the Panthers he’s reliable and able to put up big numbers for an entire season, it could spell the end of this tenure with the team.
Stewart is coming off a career-low mark of 336 rushing yards in 2012 due to injuries, and if he posts similar figures this year, I don’t see a reason why Carolina would want him back for the kind of money he’ll be owed. It’s safe to say, the 26-year old has a lot riding on his performance in 2013.
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