Football

Stewart passes physical

Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart participated only in position drills and watched most of the team portion of Saturday morning's workout in Spartanburg, S.C.

But for someone who almost never practices because of chronic pain in his left Achilles’ tendon and foot, finally passing his physical and being taken off the physically unable to perform list was a significant accomplishment for Stewart and Carolina’s struggling offense.

“It’s a relief just being out there, being around what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Stewart, who played at Timberline High and Oregon said. “Making gradual steps toward being on the field is the plan.”

Stewart missed April’s minicamp, June’s optional workouts and the first 19 practices of training camp.

Stewart played all 16 games last season and rushed for a team-best 1,133 yards, but was in constant pain and rarely practiced more than once a week. He underwent surgery to “clean up” the area between his Achilles’ tendon and foot in January.

“I’m still feeling pain, but I’m just making gradual steps,” Stewart said. “Moving up rather than down.”

EXHIBITION GAMES

Sage Rosenfels, chasing Tarvaris Jackson for Minnesota’s quarterback job while Brett Favre waffles on his future, threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter, then added a 71-yarder to Marko Mitchell in the third quarter of the Vikings’ 28-7 victory over the Rams in St. Louis. Overall No. 1 pick Sam Bradford (2-of-8, 57 yards) of the Rams was sacked four times. … Jake Delhomme (6-of-7, 66 yards) led Cleveland to a TD in his only drive and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (12-of-13, 159 yards) threw for one as the Browns beat the Packers, 27-24, in Green Bay. The Packers lost starting running back Ryan Grant after a hit to the head early on. …

Matt Schaub completed 5 of 6 passes for 78 yards, directing Houston to a field goal on its first possession and tossing a 44-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson on the second, but rookie John Skelton directed two late TD drives to give Arizona a 19-16 victory in Glendale, Ariz. … Rookie Ryan Mathews, who is replacing the departed LaDainian Tomlinson, gained 50 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 11 yards as the Charges beat the Bears, 25-10, at San Diego. …

Byron Leftwich, replacing suspended Ben Roethlisberger, was ineffective but the Steelers beat the Lions, 23-7, behind backup Dennis Dixon in Pittsburgh. Dixon led scoring drives of 75, 79 and 68 yards and threw a 68-yard scoring pass. … Rookie receiver Mike Williams caught a deep pass from Josh Freeman for a 30-yard gain to set up the only TD, while Miami’s Brandon Marshall dropped both passes thrown his way as the Dolphins beat the Buccaneers, 10-7, in Miami.

EXTRA POINTS

The Rams’ chief contract negotiator says a deal is not imminent with free-agent running back Brian Westbrook. … Buffalo running back Fred Jackson will have more tests on the "bone injury" in his left hand. He'll miss at least the remainder of the exhibitions.

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