Stewart not totally ruled out for Thursday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera wouldn't completely rule out running back Jonathan Stewart for Thursday night's game at Tampa Bay.

Stewart has been on the physically unable to perform list for the first six games rehabbing from offseason surgery on his right ankle. He was eligible to return Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, but the Panthers (3-3) opted to leave him on PUP.

Rivera said early last week it was unlikely the team's second all-time leading rusher would be activated for the Rams game. He wasn't that adamant on Monday.

"We'll have to see,'' said Rivera, who under league PUP rules has until Dec. 10 to make a final decision on Stewart. "He had a really good week last week. Again, we're going to go through the whole procedure and make sure we're doing things right.

"We'll see how things are tomorrow.''

Rivera said Stewart is expected to practice with the team on Tuesday instead of work on the sidelines as he did for most of last week. The coach said having a short week will factor into the decision of whether to use him against the 0-6 Buccaneers or perhaps the next game against Atlanta.

Stewart hasn't taken a snap in a live game since last November.

"It will be because of the way we want to practice,'' Rivera said. "If we get him rolling tomorrow, it will be good to see him out there doing the things he needs to do towards the end of the week.''