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Three starters out vs. Chargers


CHARLOTTE – Three Panthers starters have been ruled out of Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

Running back Jonathan Stewart (ankle), defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (wrist) and center Geoff Hangartner (foot) will not play.

Stewart has not played since Week 12 at Philadelphia, and his ankle injury appears to be more severe than initially thought.

"I didn't realize the extent of the ankle until they told me about it today," head coach Ron Rivera said. 

Edwards will be inactive for the second straight week, and defensive tackles Andre Neblett and Frank Kearse will once again be the starting combination in the interior of the line.

On the offensive line, Jeff Byers will step in for Hangartner at center, which will be the offensive line's seventh different starting combination this season. Thomas Austin will serve as the primary backup for Byers and right guard Garry Williams.

"Geoff was really playing well," Rivera said. "He had to replace an All-Pro (Ryan Kalil), and Geoff played as well as you can expect anybody in that situation and better.

"For the last several weeks the offensive line has come together. They've jelled. Now it's going to fall on Jeff Byers and Thomas Austin to be able to keep that group going. We'll see how they do."

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