Stewart says he's "making progress" in rehab and is "optimistic" he'll play Sunday in Carolina's home opener Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Stewart, who received a five-year contract extension this summer, sprained his right ankle in Carolina's third preseason game and was questionable leading into the season opener.
However, coach Ron Rivera erred on the side of caution and kept Stewart out of action. Stewart says there was no way he could have played. It was the first game Stewart has missed during his four NFL seasons.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press