Carolina Panthers could have Jonathan Stewart back vs. Atlanta Falcons

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Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart says he’s “ready” to play after sitting out the last 11 months with an ankle injury.

Stewart went through his first padded practice Wednesday since injuring his ankle last November and says he’s hopeful the Panthers will allow him to play Sunday against Atlanta.

Stewart would have to be activated from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list by Saturday for him to be eligible for the Atlanta game.

Coach Ron Rivera wouldn’t say for sure if the Panthers would activate Stewart, saying with a smirk, “We’ll see.”

Rivera said regardless of when Stewart returns, DeAngelo Williams will remain the team’s starting running back.

COWBOYS: The debate continues to rage about whether receiver Dez Bryant’s intensity is out of control, but tight end Jason Witten has nothing but praise for his teammate’s passion.

Witten was involved in a highly scrutinized sideline confrontation with Bryant late in Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, when Witten and inactive defensive end DeMarcus Ware attempted to get a frustrated Bryant to focus again after the Lions scored the go-ahead touchdown with 12 seconds remaining.

However, Witten is adamant that the incident and other emotional outbursts by Bryant on the sideline during the game are not evidence of a problem. On the contrary, Witten considers Bryant’s passion to be an asset for the Cowboys.

“There’s not a guy that you love playing more with on Sundays than Dez Bryant,” Witten said Wednesday. “I feel like I have a lot of passion and I think he matches that passion. I love that.”

VIKINGS: The NFL trade deadline has passed, and Jared Allen is still with Minnesota.

High-profile players with huge contracts are rarely dealt in this league, so the likelihood of him switching teams was slim. Still, he’ll be a free agent after the year. The Vikings (1-6) are on track for another rebuilding project, so there were sensible reasons for a trade of the four-time first-team All-Pro defensive end.

“I understand this business. I truly do,” Allen said Wednesday.

RAMS: Offensive guard Harvey Dahl will be sidelined at least a few weeks with an MCL injury to his left knee.

Dahl was hurt in the third quarter of Monday night’s loss to Seattle.


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