The Carolina Panthers recently added another running back to their offseason roster…
When the Carolina Panthers parted ways with veteran running back Jonathan Stewart it became immediately apparent a replacement would be in line at some point during the offseason. As the NFL Draft approached many expected another ball carrier to be selected, possibly early, as Carolina would make eight selections overall – none were running backs.
A bit surprising, onlookers began to assume that Cameron Artis-Payne would then see an increased role with new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. The former fifth-round pick (2015) has been used sparingly in the past due to his similar running style with Stewart, but his production showed promise.
Last year, the Panthers made now lead running back, Christian McCaffrey their first-round choice and he proved extremely versatile. Acting as both a rusher and pass catching option in the backfield and slot, McCaffrey is expected to be relied on heavily this season.
Fozzy Whittaker, who bounced around between teams early in his career has settled into a nice reserve and kick return role with Carolina. He should remain as a change-of-pace type runner in Turner’s system but general manager Marty Hurney wasn’t quite finished tweaking the Panthers backfield.
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Hurney signed former Denver running back C.J. Anderson to a one-year deal after he was cut in order to free up some money elsewhere with the Broncos. Anderson rushed for a career high 1,007 yards just last season and should provide a nice compliment to McCaffrey.
However, Hurney still wasn’t finished as the Panthers just claimed Charlotte native Elijah Hood to also compete for playing time. Oakland drafted Hood last year but he appeared in only one game for the Raiders during the season.
Hood was evaluated last year by the Panthers and even coined his own nickname should the former North Carolina running back end up with his favorite NFL team. Now getting an opportunity to play at every level in his home state, the “Carolina Kid” has returned.
McCaffrey, Anderson, Artis-Payne, Hood, Whittaker and fullback Alex Armah should provide an entertaining position battle during training camp and the preseason to see who emerges on the final roster in September.