STAT CORNER: Falcons’ run defense leaking yards

The Falcons are coming off their worst game of the season against the run. They gave up 201 yards rushing against the Cardinals. They have given up more than 100 yards rushing in each of their past four games and rank 22nd in the NFL (114.1 yards per game) against the run.

The Panthers average 130 yards per game, which ranks eighth in the league.

Running back DeAngelo Williams is the Panthers’ leading rusher, with 477 yards on 114 carries and one touchdown. Quarterback Cam Newton (Westlake High) has 50 rushes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Tolbert (Douglas County High) has 182 yards on 51 carries and three touchdowns.

The Panthers also expect running back Jonathan Stewart to return for Sunday’s game. He was out the past 11 games after having surgeries on both ankles.

Stewart, a 2008 first-round pick, has a career average of 4.7 yards per carry and combined with Williams in 2009 to form the first teammates in NFL history to rush for 1,100 yards each.

The Falcons know they’ll have to stop the run, or it will be a long day.

The Falcons have given up a run of 20 yards or more in five of their seven games. Last week, Arizona’s Andre Ellington had rushes of 80 and 22 yards.

New York Jets running back Mike Goodson (26 yards), New England’s LeGarrette Blount (47), Miami’s Lamar Miller (49) and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford (23) also had rushes of more than 20 yards against the Falcons.

“We don’t want to go out and give up the big runs and explosive plays,” linebacker Akeem Dent said. “Those tend to kill a defense.”