Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams is out for Sunday's game against Detroit, with Jonathan Stewart set to take his place in the starting lineup.
According to multiple media outlets, Panthers coaches were not expecting Williams to suit up for Sunday's tilt with the Lions, leaving Stewart, Mike Tolbert, Fozzy Whittaker and quarterback Cam Newton to handle the workload on the ground. The team has since made the decision to deactivate Williams in an attempt to ensure proper healing of his thigh ailment.
Williams' name popped up on the injury report Thursday, as the veteran began to experience discomfort in the thigh. He missed practice both Thursday and Friday, and was listed as 'Questionable,' which gave him a 50-50 chance to play Sunday, though the Panthers' coaching staff eventually took the decision to hold him out this morning. Given the nature of the injury and Williams' position and reliance upon burst and agility, the team is reluctant to see their 31-year-old turn a nagging ailment into a long-term problem.
Newton is expected to make his season debut today having missed week 1 with a rib injury. Derek Anderson stepped in to help guide Carolina to a win over their divisional rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday, as Williams chipped in with 14 carries for 72 yards. DeAngelo Williams is out Sunday, with Jonathan Stewart in line to start against the Lions.
Stewart managed just 37 total yards on 12 touches last weekend, though he will now be thrust into a bigger role with Williams out. The 27-year-old battled a preseason hamstring injury, but is healthy now and looks set to get the nod in the Panthers' backfield. Stewart's only career 1,000 yard season came in 2009, his second pro season. Injuries have restricted the Oregon product to just 15 appearances since 2011, a span in which he has rushed for just 516 yards and a single touchdown.
Given Detroit's stout run defense, headlined by the interior tandem of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, Jonathan Stewart and his fellow running mates in the Carolina backfield are not strongly recommended fantasy plays this weekend. Newton, tight end Greg Olsen, and rookie wideout Kelvin Benjamin, however, should all be started with confidence.