Panthers at Bears 1 p.m., Sunday, FOX, WCCB

Panthers sticking with Jonathan Stewart at running back

jjones@charlotteobserver.comOctober 27, 2012 

PANTHERS_COWBOYS_1022_23

Carolina Panthers (28) running back Jonathan Stewart receives a hand off from quarterback (1) Cam Newton during third quarter action vs the Dallas Cowboys at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, October 21, 2012 in Charlotte, NC. The Cowboys defeated the Panthers 19-14. Jeff Siner - jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

JEFF SINER — jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Jonathan Stewart will make his second consecutive start at running back Sunday against the Chicago Bears as Panthers head coach Ron Rivera looks for a hot hand in the running game.

Stewart starts in place of DeAngelo Williams, who since 2008 has started all but four games in which he’s played for the Panthers. Against Dallas, Williams had two carries for 4 yards, playing five offensive snaps.

“I want to see one guy pound and get a rhythm, then see the other guy pound and get a rhythm,” Rivera said. “To me it’s hard for a back to get a rhythm when you’re coming out every other play. So just looking back at some of those things philosophically and saying, look, this is what we have to do.

“Now what happens is when you get caught up in the moment of the game, things change.”

Still, Williams will get his chances Sunday. Rivera said the team did not rotate the backs like it should have against the Cowboys.

Stewart and Williams have combined for 319 rushing yards this year, and quarterback Cam Newton has a team-high 273 yards rushing. Carolina ranked 17th in the NFL in rushing offense.

Rivera said that when he told Williams about the new rushing plan, which veers from the old scheme of frequently subbing the two backs, Williams understood but didn’t agree.

“When he gets a chance he wants the ball, and I appreciate that, I really do,” Rivera said. “But under the circumstances, we’re trying to do something right now.

“We may start out, the next thing you know he goes in and gets the hot hand. He’s going to get to the point where he wants to come out. That’s what we want to do. We want to find out who’s going to be hot and go with him.”

Williams and Stewart have both signed long-term contracts with the team, and together the deals are worth $79.5 million. Each rushed for more than 1,100 yards in 2009.

Jones: 704-358-5223; Twitter: @jjones9

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