5 Carolina Panthers newcomers who could surprise in 2021

(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard
(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard /

Chuba Hubbard – Carolina Panthers RB

Christian McCaffrey’s return to fitness is something that’s going to benefit the Carolina Panthers greatly. It’s hard to envisage a situation where they finish with a 5-11 record if the All-Pro had been on the field for the entirety of the campaign, especially when one considers how competitive the team was against top opposition throughout the campaign.

Keeping McCaffrey fresh is free from injury is a precarious situation for the Panthers.

They depend on the former first-round pick heavily. But the coaching staff is now fully aware of the problems that can emerge if too much is placed on his shoulders.

Drafting Chuba Hubbard was a smart move by Carolina. The running back enjoyed a standout college career at Oklahoma State – including exceptional displays against teams coached by Matt Rhule – so with Mike Davis now on the Atlanta Falcons there is real hope the rookie can serve as McCaffrey’s primary backup right out of the gate.

Hubbard could also take some carries away from McCaffrey when he needs some time off the field. The prospect of two-back sets is something else that might add a different dimension to the Panthers in 2021 and possibly beyond.

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Rookie running backs seem to adjust quicker than most positions. So don’t be surprised if Hubbard plays a considerable part next season and impresses when touches come his way.