Carolina Panthers final 53-man roster projection for 2021 season

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers RBs and FB (4)

  • Christian McCaffrey, Chuba Hubbard, Spencer Brown, Giovanni Ricci (FB).

The return to full health of Christian McCaffrey cannot be understated. His 13-game absence in 2020 was sorely felt by the Carolina Panthers and if they want to harbor any realistic hopes of making a better go of things this time around, the running back needs to be on the field a whole lot more.

McCaffrey is still the best dual-threat back in the league. There is absolutely no denying that when the All-Pro is fit and firing.

Keeping him injury-free is a riddle Carolina’s coaching staff must solve. But it’s worth remembering that McCaffrey hadn’t missed a game over his first three years in the league before last season’s misfortune.

Losing Mike Davis to the Atlanta Falcons in free agency meant finding a primary backup capable of shouldering some responsibility was essential for the Panthers this offseason. In fourth-round selection Chuba Hubbard, the organization has just that judging by his preseason contribution.

Who’ll take the third position is unclear.

Reggie Bonnafon and Rodney Smith didn’t see a lot of action over the latter stages of training camp and the warmup games through injury. There is also undrafted free agent Spencer Brown’s progress to consider.

Brown was fantastic against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which might tip the scales in his favor.

One big surprise on the 2021 roster might be Giovanni Ricci. Moving the tight end to full-back indicates Carolina is looking to find a role for the player, who is a valued special teams contributor, too.