Jonathan Stewart out for preseason finale

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart didn't break any bones when he was injured just before halftime of Sunday night’s preseason game with the New York Jets.

Coach Ron Rivera said X-rays were negative and Stewart apparently has a sprained ankle. Rivera was quick to say Stewart will not play in Thursday’s preseason finale against Pittsburgh, but the Panthers still don’t know the full extent of his injury.

I’m sure the training staff will be working to get a better sense of the injury as the Sept. 9 start of the regular season approaches.

Carolina still would be in good shape if Stewart has to miss a game or two early on. The Panthers also have DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert in the backfield.

But the prospect of being without Stewart for a longer period is not something the Panthers want to face. They gave Stewart a five-year, $36.5 million contract a few weeks ago and coordinator Rob Chudzinski has a plan to use all three running backs extensively.

In a best-case scenario, Stewart’s injury isn’t severe and he can rest the ankle in the coming days and be ready for the season opener.