A Look at the Carolina Panthers: Running Game

Scratching the surface: Mike Goodson, Tony Fiammetta, and Tyrell Sutton.

Mainstays: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart

Respectfully On the Decline: Brad Hoover

This first series of analyzing the Carolina Panthers, will cover the running back and fullback positions.

This season, the Panthers running game was a dominating force between running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

Both backs combined for over 1,100 rushing yards each on the season. An NFL record.

When I look at this team, I don’t really see the need to address an area in regards to the running back area. The only slight area of concern is the ongoing problem with Jonathan Stewart’s toe and lingering pain in his Achilles’ tendon.

The good thing, as I’ve stated in past posts, is the Panthers do have some depth at the running back position.

Tyrell Sutton is something of a surprise to me, as I really didn’t expect much from him, since he was castoff from the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad. But late in the season he had one game where I had to take my hat off for him. I was really impressed and felt this team might have it’s third string running back for the 2010 season.

After that game, I never heard or saw Sutton again, as he had essentially suffered a nagging injury. That was quite unfortunate, although I do believe the Panthers will give Sutton another season to see what he can do. While undersized–5-8, 218 lbs–He could be in line to become Brad Hoover’s successor.

I had a lot more hope and faith in running back Mike Goodson, who was drafted out of Texas A&M in the 2009 NFL Draft. Sutton outperformed Goodson in the running game and when returning kickoffs.

Sutton also filled in at the fullback position when Brad Hoover was out with an ankle injury.

So, if the Panthers do look to draft or acquire a running back; be it through free agency or the draft, it will be interesting to see whether the person will replace Sutton or Goodson.

I do think Mike Goodson will improve when he dedicates himself to conditioning and adding mass to his structure during the offseason. Another year of learning the ropes in the league and playing time behind Williams and Stewart can be nothing but beneficial to the second-year running back.

At the fullback position, longtime Panther Brad Hoover is another year older. He does however have one year remaining on his contract. If anything, I could see the team possibly relegating Hoover to a secondary role, unless of course he comes out the gate ablaze.

The battle to become Hoover’s eventual successor could very well be between teammates Tyrell Sutton and second-year fullback Tony Fiammetta.

Fiammetta has size and strength, but he struggled as a rookie, which by and large is to be expected. Another year under his belt and the competition between both backs could become a fiery one.

On Monday we will take a look at the quarterback position.

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