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Whittaker ruled out; Ealy absent with illness

CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera has already ruled out running back Fozzy Whittaker for Sunday's Divisional Playoff against the Seahawks. Whittaker, still recovering from an ankle injury, has not been able to practice this week.

"He's doing the best he can," Rivera said. "He's working on it and getting better and better."

Fullback Mike Tolbert and rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne will serve as the backups behind lead back Jonathan Stewart, who is set to return after missing the final three games of the regular season with a foot injury.

Rivera was encouraged by the way Artis-Payne performed late in the season and feels he's ready to contribute in the postseason if needed.

"Do we have confidence in Cameron Artis-Payne? Most certainly," Rivera said. "I think he's proven to us that he has the kind of ability to play in this league."

Defensive end Kony Ealy was the only other player to join Whittaker on the injury report. He missed Thursday's practice with a fever.

"He came in this morning and wasn't feeling very well," Rivera said. "They gave him some medicine and sent him home. Hopefully, tomorrow he'll be fine."

View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game against the Seahawks.

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