Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart does not seem concerned about the presence of a highly drafted rookie who happens to play the same position as he does.
“Stop talking about that. Who cares?” Stewart said Tuesday to ESPN.com on whether first-rounder Christian McCaffrey might see more touches. “We want to win the Super Bowl, right? That’s the bottom line. It’s not about people getting carries. It’s not about people getting catches or touchdowns.
“It’s about what can you contribute to get us to the Super Bowl.”
These are tricky situations because Stewart either A.) is already tired of answering the question because he knows his touches will go down, B.) knows that he’ll be used in tandem with another back like he has for a majority of his career and wants to end any “unhappy veteran” narrative early, C.) is trying to be the veteran in the offensive meeting room and make it so no one person is more important than the other or D.) some combination of A through C.
I’m inclined to believe Stewart has good intentions. Most of the retained veterans on this team during the Ron Rivera era have brought a significant amount of emotional maturity to the table. Rivera has always been good at recognizing extra qualities that can elevate a locker room. The combination of Stewart and players like Jerricho Cotchery, Greg Olsen, Thomas Davis and Charles Johnson have been largely responsible for Carolina’s success over the years.
So while it’s tempting to dig into Stewart’s eyebrow-raising quote, it really does seem echoed by a player who means well. There’s always been room for more than one running back in Carolina.