As we inch closer to the start of training camp on July 26, we’ll take a look at each positional group for the Panthers. First up, the running backs.
2016 Rushing Statistics
Jonathan Stewart proved last season that he can still be an effective running back when healthy. His power running style has taken a toll on his body throughout the years, however, as Stewart has not played a full 16 game season since 2011. Cameron Artis-Payne has a similar running style to Stewart, but the 2015 fifth-round pick was a healthy scratch for all but three games last season. Fozzy Whittaker served as the change-of-pace running back for the Panthers, mainly on third downs. He also can be an effective receiving option out of the backfield. Cam Newton will always contribute to the team’s rushing attack as well, but the Panthers hope he takes fewer hits than he did last year, so they won’t look to lean on Newton in the run game quite as much.
Overall, the 2016 Panthers rushing attack was average at best.
Panthers Draft Christian McCaffrey at Eighth Overall
53-Man Roster Prediction: Running Back (3)
Christian McCaffrey (R)
Fozzy Whittaker played significantly more than Artis-Payne last season, but he has a similar playing style to McCaffrey. The Panthers also drafted Ohio State wide receiver/running back Curtis Samuel in the second round, and while Samuel is expected to be primarily a receiver, Shula can also draw up certain plays where he carries the ball. Both McCaffrey and Samuel are smaller in size, so it would make sense for the Panthers to keep another bigger back on the roster, especially with Jonathan Stewart’s injury history. Jalen Simmons is a possible candidate for the Panthers practice squad.