Deshaun Foster is no longer a Panther. His career has been marked by inconsistency and fumbles. However, don’t get the wrong idea, he did help lead this team to a Super Bowl appearance and two NFC Championship Games. The time and the circumstances just didn’t work in his favor.
The move allows for a few things – DeAngelo Williams can now prove what he’s capable of. His 5.0 average per carry last year was impressive. The argument can be made that he’s not an every-down back and that he can’t take the punishment. Some believe that he’s a third-down back albeit an exceptional one who can take more carries than the average situational running back. Come training camp, he’ll have the chance to prove his doubters wrong.
Who he will be competing against will be answered in the dead of winter and long before the rigors of 95-plus degree training camp sessions. It will be decided during free agency and the April Draft. So, is the door open?
The Panthers have been talking as if they want to redefine the team. General Manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox met with Jerry Richardson and the discussion centered on making this team look like the Pittsburgh Steelers – mean, physical, tough.
If that’s what they want, the time is now. I’ll throw you one name. In fact, I will be neither the first nor the last Panther fan to evoke the name during this offseason – Michael Turner.
Here’s is a guy who has been buried in San Diego behind the best running back in the NFL in Ladainian Tomlinson. It’s what happened each time he has seen significant time that makes a believer of me and every fan who wants him to join their team this winter. He was the major focus of the Chargers’ running game during the playoffs with Tomlinson ailing.
He’s set to be one of the top two free agent players in the league and rightfully so especially among Panthers fans. Ask the average fan with ties to Charlotte and they’ll tell you exactly what I’m telling you – you wanna be more physical? You wanna have that power running game? Fine! Go get us Michael Turner and we’ll have it.
Sure, no running back will be successful behind a bad offensive line but the team is taking steps to keep the core talent intact among this group – Jordon Gross, among others. But the team showed signs of weakness last season when the running game was needed. The team struggled with injuries at QB, sure. But it was when the running game was needed the most that it failed the team.
Here’s your chance, Panthers! Mr. Hurney, coach Fox, Mr. Richardson, you want to make this team physical, big and bad? If you truly want to be the bullies on the block and push people around while you take their lunch money then here’s you chance. Two things. Two free pieces of advice:
Build that offensive line to be the biggest, baddest bunch of dudes in the league capable of pushing around the competition.
Finally, go get us Michael Turner. Put your money where your mouth is.
Afterall, the door is open. All you have to do is walk through it.