Carolina Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker will miss the 2018 season with a torn ACL…
After the recent signing of C.J. Anderson, most thought the running back situation was settled and emerging as a strong, deep position group for the Carolina Panthers. Unfortunately, on Thursday that theory was squashed with the revelation of an injury.
Veteran running back Fozzy Whittaker has torn his ACL and been placed on injured reserve, leaving just four running backs on the current roster. The beginnings of a deep position group, reset by an unforeseen circumstance. Christian McCaffrey, C.J. Anderson, Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood make up the whole of the group now, with undrafted free agent Reggie Bonnafon presumably signing a contract soon.
The injury was suffered during an optional practice, which is always an unfortunate way to get hurt. It is even reported that the injury was non-contact, similar to the devastating injury of Houston Texans quarterback, Deshaun Watson, last season.
The odds of Hood, Bonnafon and Artis-Payne making the roster greatly increased on Thursday, especially the latter, who is now virtually guaranteed a spot as he is one of only two veterans of Carolina left at the running back position. This is barring another injury or a terrible training camp and preseason, of course, which isn’t likely after Artis-Payne’s amazing fight for a roster position last preseason.
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I don’t foresee another running back signing so soon after the Anderson pickup but it’s definitely a possibility, especially if the group disappoints in training camp, the preseason or even during the regular season. If Carolina does sign another back, it’ll likely just be a small name to help with change-of-pace duties.
In 2017, Whittaker pounded the rock seven times for 18 yards. In addition, he returned six kicks for 110 yards on special teams. The season prior, he rushed 57 times for 265 yards and a solid 4.6 yards per attempt. Whitaker also returned 12 kicks for 275 yards that year.
The loss of Whitaker also loosely increases the chances of wide receiver Damiere Byrd making the roster. Byrd was the only other major kick returner last season besides Curtis Samuel and he likely won’t see as much time in the back of the end zone after his own devastating injury just as he was coming on last season.
So, while Whittaker may not have been the most crucial piece of the Carolina offense, he was and still is a huge part of the Panthers locker room as he truly embodies the Panthers culture.
I, and presumably the Panthers guys, sincerely hope that Whitaker can bounce back and stay involved with the team this season as Carolina positions itself for another run to the big game.