CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Since being voted to his first Pro Bowl on Tuesday, DeAngelo Williams had been as elusive with the media as would-be tacklers.
When he was finally cornered on Thursday, the Carolina Panthers running back seemed more interested in talking about teammate
Such as it is with this tight-knit duo that has a chance to make history on Sunday as the first set of backs since the NFL-AFL merger to each rush for 1,100 yards in a season.
"I didn't even know that," Williams said, looking surprised. "That's pretty cool."
Williams on Tuesday was voted to the Pro Bowl after being snubbed a year earlier. He has 1,117 yards despite missing two games and three quarters of another with sprained ankles.
Two days earlier, an injured Williams was both a fan and a calculator for Stewart, who set a team record with 206 yards rushing in Carolina's 41-9 rout of the New York Giants.
Williams kept telling Stewart on the sideline how many more yards he needed to reach 1,000 on the season. Stewart enters Sunday's season finale against New Orleans with 1,008 yards.
They are just the sixth set of teammates since the 1970 merger to rush for 1,000 yards each, but the third in the past four years. Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants did it last season. Warrick Dunn and quarterback Michael Vick accomplished the feat in 2006 for Atlanta.
"That was one of our hidden goals because we saw that Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs did it last year," Williams said. "We knew that it was possible. Unfortunately I kind of got injured a little bit. But the fortunate thing about it is it allowed him to rush for 1,000 yards. I told him I was proud of him and he ran
hard. He broke a lot of tackles that day and the O-line did a great job of blocking for him."
Now with 92 yards on Sunday, Stewart would reach 1,100 yards and give the duo an unsurpassed milestone. Not bad for a couple of guys who have been fighting injuries all season. Stewart hasn't practiced this week because of chronic pain in his left Achilles' tendon.
"It's very special," Stewart said of going over 1,000 yards. "That's something that me and DeAngelo cherish. The Double Trouble, the Smash and Dash and just our friendship."
The two small, strong, elusive former first-round picks became close friends last year when Williams took over as the starter and Stewart was a rookie. Williams shattered the team's single-season rushing record with 1,515 yards, while Stewart set the franchise's rookie mark with 836 yards. They also had a friendly nickname dispute with Tennessee's Chris Johnson and LenDale White.
Williams and Stewart settled on "Double Trouble" and started a Web site based off the name after Johnson and White laid claim to "Smash and Dash." Despite their competition for carries, the two remain close. Now they've become one of the most feared running back duos in the NFL.
With Williams sidelined, Stewart has rushed for 315 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks. That barely tops Williams' two-game stretch against Arizona and New Orleans in November when he had 307 yards and two scores.
Williams, who missed practice Thursday, still hopes to play Sunday and combine with Stewart to give the playoff-bound Saints a stiff test.
"There are a lot of football teams in the National Football League that would love to have the luxury that we have," Williams said. "When one goes down the other comes in and doesn't miss a beat. Having two guys and putting that much pressure on defenses, play in and play out and not knowing what to expect, keeping them on their heels."
NOTES: CB Richard Marshall (ankle) was limited in practice Thursday after skipping Wednesday's workout. ... QB Matt Moore (rib), WR Muhsin Muhammad (ankle) and T Geoff Schwartz (groin) practiced in full. ... The Panthers are still waiting to put WR Steve Smith (broken arm) on injured reserve, perhaps to see if they need an extra RB or WR on Sunday depending on injuries. ... Coach John Fox pushed back meetings Friday morning -- but only by 30 minutes -- the night after New Year's Eve. ... Panthers FB Brad Hoover won the Tom Berry Good Guy Award, presented by the Pro Football Writers of America and named after the High Point Enterprise writer who died in September.