Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams spent the past two seasons looking for more carries.

Williams should get them this year.

After meeting with a foot specialist on Tuesday about his surgically repaired right ankle Jonathan Stewart –Williams’ backfield mate – will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list.

Stewart who has been on the preseason PUP list will be out a minimum of six weeks and is eligible to return in Week 7. He will miss at least five games (the Panthers have a bye in Week 4).

Stewart has not played or practiced since re-injuring his right ankle last November during a Monday night game at Philadelphia. He underwent surgery on both of his ankles during the offseason including an arthroscopic procedure to clean up loose bodies in his right ankle – the one still giving him trouble.

“I can spend all my energy being disappointed or spend all my energy preparing myself” Stewart said following Tuesday’s practice. “It’s just got to heal up.”

Stewart met Tuesday with Panthers team doctor Robert Anderson a nationally known foot and ankle surgeon. Stewart said he still feels pain in the ankle.

“Our doctors and trainers have been going at it figuring things out – solutions here and there” Stewart said. “We’ve put a lot of brainpower behind it. So we’re working at it.”

“He’s made some big strides some real good things have happened” Panthers coach Ron Rivera added. “It’s just they’re not going to happen soon enough. So in order to help us as a football team this is the best move that we could make.”

Stewart 26 signed a five-year $36.5million contract extension in 2012. He restructured it during the offseason making a slight adjustment to help the Panthers’ salary cap position in future years.

When healthy the 5-foot-10 235-pound Stewart gives the Panthers a tough between-the-tackles back who is difficult to bring down on first contact. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield: His 47 catches and 413 receiving yards in 2011 were the most by a Panthers running back.

The Panthers have been criticized for investing so much in Stewart and Williams as well as adding fullback Mike Tolbert to the mix last year. But that running back depth could be tested during the early portion of this season.

In addition to Stewart Tolbert has yet to play in a preseason game as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Rivera said he is hopeful – “fingers crossed” – Tolbert will be back for the Week 1 game against Seattle.