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Unbeaten Panthers rule out RB Jonathan Stewart against Giants

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Does sitting Stewart show Panthers will be conservative? (1:34)

Mike & Mike break down what Ron Rivera ruling RB Jonathan Stewart out on Sunday means for how he will approach going for an undefeated season. (1:34)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart will not play on Sunday against the New York Giants, coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday.

Stewart suffered a sprained left foot in the first half of Sunday's 38-0 win against Atlanta.

The Panthers (13-0) will turn to Fozzy Whittaker, Mike Tolbert and rookie Cameron Artis-Payne.

Rivera said cornerback Charles Tillman looked good in practice and appears ready to return after missing the past four games with a hyperextended knee.

Bene Benwikere, who was replacing Tillman, suffered a fractured leg Sunday against Atlanta, ending his season.

"He did well," Rivera said of Tillman. "Charles took all the reps that he needed. He moved well. A little rusty. You could tell his conditioning wasn't where he needed it to be, but he moved around good."

Rivera said that if Tillman doesn't have a setback in the next couple of days, he is hopeful the 13-year veteran will return to the starting lineup.

Ideally, Rivera said the team might have given Tillman one more week to recover, but Benwikere's injury sped up the process.

Rivera said he's being "extremely cautious" with Stewart, who is third in the NFL in rushing with 989 yards. He said Charlotte-based orthopedic specialist Dr. Robert Anderson recommended giving Stewart at least one game off.

Stewart continues to wear the walking boot that he had on Monday after the MRI revealed the sprain.

"We're going to be smart about it," Rivera said. "Doc's not necessarily concerned, but he does think the foot needs to be rested."

Rivera said Whittaker or Tolbert likely will start, but added that Artis-Payne would get his share of opportunities.

The SEC's leading rusher last season at Auburn, Artis-Payne hasn't taken a snap since the Oct. 25 win against Philadelphia. He has been inactive the past six games.

"This is a big opportunity for Cameron," Rivera said. "He's going to get some opportunities for sure. I'm excited about it. It's one of those things where we said when the time's right and Jonathan needs a break [Artis-Payne will get an opportunity], but Jonathan just kept rolling and rolling.

"Now it's a great opportunity [to] have him up and see what he can do."