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Jonathan Stewart (ankle) expected to play Sunday

The Carolina Panthers are taking necessary precaution with running back Jonathan Stewart.

Stewart did not take part in practice on Wednesday, three days after sustaining an ankle injury in second half of the Panthers' Divisional Round victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters the team expects Stewart to be ready for Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

"We're just going to ease him back into action," Rivera said.

Stewart missed the previous five weeks before Sunday with a sprained foot. He looked healthy and performed extremely well against Seattle's stout run defense, rushing for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Stewart was the first running back to surpass 100 yards against the Seahawks all season.

Stewart rushed for 989 yards and six touchdowns on 242 carries in 13 games during the regular season.

According to the NFL Media Research, the Panthers have rushed for 100 or more yards in 30 straight games, including the postseason. That's the longest such streak since the 1974-76 Pittsburgh Steelers, who went over 100 in 37 consecutive games.

In other injury news, Rivera said defensive end Jared Allen remains doubtful to play Sunday due to a fracture foot he sustained against the Seahawks. Running back Fozzy Whittaker returned to practice and should be on the field against the Cardinals. Whitaker has been sidelined for a month with a high-ankle sprain.

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