Could Rodney Smith see an increased role in Week 11 and beyond?

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Rodney Smith
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Rodney Smith /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Rodney Smith /

Smith’s running ability

There is a lot to like about the way Rodney Smith conducts himself on the field. He is a talented runner who likes nothing more than getting hard yards between the tackles and it was especially strange to see the player not hear his name called after a standout college career at Minnesota.

Smith caught the eye on his first three carries for the Carolina Panthers in their defeat to the Buccaneers, gaining 13 rushing yards. This might not seem like much, but it is a significant milestone for the rookie and one that can give him great confidence in the pursuit of a longer-term commitment from the franchise.

His time with the Gophers saw Smith emerge as the program’s all-time leading rusher, gaining 4,125 rushing yards, 29 touchdowns, 4,646 yards from scrimmage, and a yards-per-carry average of 4.7 over a five-year span. The player will never blow you away with elite explosiveness, but his intelligence to find gaps in protection is a standout feature of his game.

The Panthers also have Trenton Cannon to shoulder some of the load if Mike Davis is limited in whatever way. He hasn’t made any lasting impression in the run game as yet, but the former New York Jet did manage to display his elusiveness on a long kick return in Week 10.

There isn’t much in the way of expectations surrounding Carolina over the next six games. So there will be no better time for the coaching staff to see what players like Smith can produce when it matters most.