CHARLOTTE – The Panthers are on the verge of having two key contributors return to action. Running back Jonathan Stewart, who has been on the physically unable to perform list all season with an injured ankle, practiced in full pads on Wednesday and is looking to make his 2013 debut Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
"I feel ready," Stewart said. "It was a good step forward. It felt good hitting the field full speed with some contact."
Defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who hasn't played since Week 2 due to an injured hamstring, is also eyeing a Week 9 return.
"This is the best I've felt in a long time," Edwards said. "I felt great at practice today. Didn't have a lot of pain or anything, which is something I had been fighting through. I feel like I'm part of this game plan getting ready to go."
HANDLING TURNOVERS: Quarterback Cam Newton has been justifiably praised for what he's done over the last three games: 58-of-75 for 667 yards and eight total touchdowns.
He also deserves praise for what he hasn't done. Newton hasn't turned the ball over since Week 5.
He hopes that streak continues, but when it inevitably ends, Newton believes he's learned how to best handle it.
"One thing that I realized playing in this league, especially as a quarterback, turnovers are going to happen," Newton said. "Do you want them to happen? Absolutely not. But for me, it's about bouncing back. I'm a leader on this team and I can't let these guys see me sweat.
"Like coach Shula says, it has to be water on a duck's back and you have to keep going."
As for his current hot streak, Newton said, "I think my best is still yet to come. I'm not celebrating right now. We are just seven games in."
WHO TO COVER: When the Falcons are next on the schedule, cornerback Captain Munneryln usually begins preparing to face Atlanta's star-powered duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
But Jones is out for the season with a foot injury, and White may miss his second consecutive game with ankle and hamstring injuries.
"They are big-time players," Munnerlyn said. "Roddy, if he can't go that definitely hurts their team.
"Injuries hurt. That's the biggest difference (in their team). But they are still a good football team. We are not going to sleep on these guys."
Harry Douglas has emerged as the Falcons top wide receiver with Jones and White sidelined, and he's been quite productive. The fifth-year receiver has 19 catches for 270 yards over the last two games.