Injury roundup: Jonathan Stewart returns to practice

Jonathan Stewart's return took a big step forward Wednesday.

The Carolina Panthers' lead tailback returned to the practice field for the first time since Week 14, per the Charlotte Observer.

Stewart missed the final three games of the regular season with a sprained foot.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Stewart had a good practice. "Feel pretty comfortable, confident having him back on football field," Rivera said, according to the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta.

The running back's return should not be understated. While the Panthers extended their streak of 100-plus-yard rushing games to 27 without Stewart the past three contests, the production from their tailback committee wasn't as dynamic.

Stewart tallied 989 yards on 242 carries (4.1 average) and six rushing touchdowns in 13 games in 2015.

Facing a stout Seattle run defense, which has allowed just 56.7 yards rushing per game over the last six contests, the Panthers will need a healthy Stewart to have any hopes of advancing to the NFC title game.

Other injury news we are tracking:

  1. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder) did not practice on Wednesday. He said he doesn't know when he will throw and plans on getting "mental reps" Wednesday. He told reporters he was "hour by hour."

Wide receiver Antonio Brown (concussion), linebacker Ryan Shazier (knee) and running back DeAngelo Williams (foot) also did not practice.

  1. Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) practiced Wednesday after missing the regular-season finale. There was little doubt the wideout would return for the playoffs. Safety Kurt Coleman also returned to practice.

Running back Fozzy Whittaker remained out with a high ankle sprain.

  1. Chiefs receiver Jeremy Maclin (high ankle sprain) sat out Wednesday. Andy Reid called the sprain "mild" earlier in the week. Kansas City's top receiver hopes to practice at some point this week. This injury is an important one to track.

Running back Spencer Ware missed practice with a high ankle sprain. Pass rusher Tamba Hali (knee) also sat out.

  1. Packers cornerback Sam Shields remains in concussion protocol. "Sam had a really good workout yesterday. Still not totally through the concussion protocol," coach Mike McCarthy said.

Green Bay receiver Davante Adams (knee) did not practice. The wideout left last weekend's win early. He's reportedly unlikely to play against the Cardinals.

  1. Broncos linebacker Von Miller was sick and sent home prior to practice, according to NFL Media's James Palmer.

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (shoulder) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (knee) were both limited at practice. Quarterback Brock Osweiler (knee) also didn't practice, but coach Gary Kubiak said he expects him to be back on the field Thursday.

  1. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said on Wednesday that running back Marshawn Lynch (abdominal) is day-to-day. Lynch practiced for Seattle on Wednesday.

Tight end Luke Willson (concussion) also practiced.

  1. Cardinals' Mike Iupati (shoulder) and Frostee Rucker (ankle) were both limited for the team on Wednesday.
  1. The Patriots had a host of players that were limited on Wednesday. Danny Amendola (knee), Scott Chandler (knee), Julian Edelman (foot), Rob Gronkowski (knee), Dont'a Hightower (knee), Chandler Jones (abdomen/toe) and Sebastian Vollmer (ankle) were all limited. Tom Brady (ankle) was a full participant.
  1. Tamba Hali (knee/thumb), Jeremy Maclin (ankle) and Spencer Ware (ankle) did not participate in practice for the Chiefs. Justin Houston (knee) was limited.
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