Jonathan Stewart will be ready for season

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Moans of "again?'' were heard throughout social media when Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera announced that running back Jonathan Stewart had pulled a hamstring and wouldn't be ready for the start of training camp.

Stewart understands, having played in only 15 games the past two seasons because of foot and ankle injuries.

He's frustrated as well.

He's also optimistic that the hamstring won't sideline him for long and that he'll be ready once the season begins.

"Yeah, it is very frustrating,'' Stewart said on Saturday as the Panthers settled in at Wofford College after two days in Charlotte, N.C. "I had a good OTA, minicamp, a good offseason -- period -- up until two weeks ago when I pulled my hammy.

"It's definitely frustrating, but it's nothing that I'm really too concerned about considering my past and my history with my ankles. If I can overcome that then this is an easy one.''

Stewart spent all of the 2013 training camp rehabbing from offseason ankle surgery. He spent the first seven games on the physically unable to perform list and then suffered a torn MCL against New Orleans that forced him to miss three more games.

He's been told the hamstring injury could keep him out two to four weeks. He's not sure if he'll miss a preseason game, but he's certain he'll be ready for the regular season.

"Going into this year I'm going to be the freshest that I've been in two years,'' said Stewart, who injured the hamstring working out in California.

Asked what his goal was for the season, Stewart deadpanned: "Winning a Super Bowl.''

Asked what his personal goals were, he said: "Contributing to the best of my ability to win a Super Bowl.''

The Panthers don't necessarily need a healthy Stewart to win a Super Bowl. They went 12-4 last season basically without him. But a healthy Stewart would be big for an offense with a new group of wide receivers and rebuilt line.

He offers a burst that backfield mates DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert don't have. As he showed in 2011 when he caught 47 passes in addition to rushing for 761 yard, he can be a dual threat.

He just has to find a way to stay healthy. The past few years, he hasn't been lucky enough to do that.

"I don't really believe in luck,'' Stewart said. "I just believe that you're given a hand of cards and it's up to you to make the best next move. With the last couple of years, battling injuries and whatnot, it's just something I had to go through. It's made me who I am now.

"I love the fact that I can get up in the morning and walk without that much soreness in my ankles. It's the little things in life that you take for granted. You just look at things different a little bit.''

The outlook of the Carolina offense will look better with Stewart in it.