Around the NFL

Jonathan Stewart doubtful; Panthers to ride hot hand

For the second straight week, the Carolina Panthers will have to rely on street free agents to carry the backfield load.

DeAngelo Williams has been ruled out with a high-ankle sprain. Jonathan Stewart is listed as "doubtful" to face the Chicago Bears with a knee injury.

Coach Ron Rivera did say Stewart "took a big step forward" in Friday's practice, which suggests he is on track to play in Week 6 at Cincinnati.

In the absence of his top two backs, Rivera plans to use a "hot hand" approach with Darrin Reaves, Fozzy Whittaker and newly signed Chris Ogbonnaya.

Reaves led the backfield in touches last week, but his speed and quickness left much to be desired. Of the three backs, Ogbonnaya -- a hybrid halfback/fullback -- has enjoyed the most NFL success.

Considering the options at their disposal, we would expect Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula to build a game plan around the talents of Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen in the passing attack.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews every Week 5 game and explains why Sammy Watkins is now a favorite for Rookie of the Year. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL Now.

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