4 promising signs for the Panthers at Packers in Week 15

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) Rodney Smith
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) Rodney Smith /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports) Rodney Smith /

Rodney Smith’s emergence

With Christian McCaffrey out of the lineup for the Carolina Panthers once again, it was left to other running backs on the depth chart to stand up and be counted without the All-Pro carrying the load. Mike Davis produced another solid effort with 59 rushing yards on 14 carries. But it was the contribution of Rodney Smith that was perhaps even more encouraging.

The undrafted free-agent picked up 23 yards from just four touches, which represents a 5.8 yards-per-carry average. Smith was also a factor in the passing game to further enhance his overall influence, catching three balls for 23 yards.

Carolina might not be able to keep Davis around in 2021 if he gets an offer of a more substantial role elsewhere after performing well in McCaffrey’s prolonged absence throughout the campaign. This makes it even more important that the decision-makers find the right sort of player to fill the primary backup role and Smith could be the man.

It’s easy to forget that Smith ended his time with the Minnesota Gophers as their all-time leading rusher in college. He was a tough cut during training camp but has made the most out of a second chance with the organization. So if he can continue this sort of production when opportunities come his way over the next fortnight then it might just come with a longer-term commitment from the Panthers.