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Jonathan Stewart's status for Panthers to be decided

The Carolina Panthers have until Saturday to decide the fate of running back Jonathan Stewart.

That's the league-imposed deadline to either keep the sixth-year pro on the active roster or place the running back on the regular-season physically unable to perform list. If he heads to PUP, Stewart would miss the season's first six weeks.

Clarity might come Tuesday, when Stewart plans to meet with a doctor to see if his surgically repaired right ankle is ready for business, The Charlotte Observer reported.

"It's one of those things, he's still going through a couple other things with the doctor," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday. "It's one of those things that we're just waiting to get the answer."

Answers have been elusive on the Stewart front. Rivera suggested earlier this month that the runner was on target to play in Week 1. Rivera reiterated Monday that "everything's an option," but reports from over the summer suggested the Panthers have no idea when Stewart will be ready.

Until the good doctor weighs in, the Panthers face uncertainty in their backfield. Stewart played in just nine games last season. As talented as Stewart is, he's been an injury-riddled performer throughout his career. Scheduled to earn a $9 million option bonus next season, Stewart might be nearing the end in Carolina unless he produces something special -- if and when he gets back on the field.

Until he does, expect to see a heavy dose of DeAngelo Williams and rookie Kenjon Barner in Carolina.

UPDATE: After seeing a foot specialist, Stewart will start the season on the PUP list and be out six games, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday.

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