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Panthers close to full strength

Posted Jan 11, 2016

Head coach Ron Rivera feels good about running back Jonathan Stewart, wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., safety Kurt Coleman returning to action Sunday.

CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera is optimistic that several injured Panthers – save perhaps running back Fozzy Whittaker – will practice Wednesday and play Sunday in the NFC Divisional Playoff against the Seattle Seahawks.

"But you know me," Rivera added. "I'm optimistic."

Running back Jonathan Stewart (foot), wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. (leg), safety Kurt Coleman (leg) and linebacker A.J. Klein (hamstring) are expected to practice. Stewart missed the final three games of the regular season, Ginn and Coleman missed the finale, and Klein was injured in the finale.

Whittaker missed the finale with a high ankle sprain. He's no longer wearing a boot but isn't as far along in his recovery.

"Probably the one that will be a concern more than anyone else will be Fozzy," Rivera said. "But for the most part, I anticipate having everybody there."

With Ginn, who leads the Panthers with 10 receiving touchdowns and 16.8 yards per reception, the challenge may be getting him ready to play at full speed.

"He's a sprinter, he's a runner, and obviously his legs are important," Rivera said. "As he starts going again, we've got to be smart and judicious with it. We'll get him to the point where he's confident and comfortable, and we'll get him rolling."

For the Seahawks, running back Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) and tight end Luke Willson (concussion) were inactive for Sunday's dramatic victory at the Minnesota Vikings.