5 Carolina Panthers backups who’ll push for serious playing time in 2021

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Stantley Thomas-Oliver
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Stantley Thomas-Oliver /
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Carolina Panthers
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Chuba Hubbard /

Chuba Hubbard – Carolina Panthers RB

Now, there is absolutely no chance that Chuba Hubbard will unseat Christian McCaffrey atop the running back depth chart. But that’s not to say the fourth-round pick won’t become an important part of the offensive game plan in 2021.

Hubbard has made a solid start to life with the Carolina Panthers. The coaching staff gave him plenty of responsibility in preseason games – both carrying the football and on special teams – which is something he coped well with overall.

Expecting Hubbard to generate a significant amount of carries is unrealistic. McCaffrey is the main man and will be for some time, so it might be a gradual introduction into the system unless the All-Pro falls foul of the injury bug once again.

This is a riddle offensive coordinator Joe Brady needs to solve. Hubbard’s arrival gives Carolina the option to move McCaffrey into the slot on occasions or even use a two-back set to further keep opposing defenses guessing.

We won’t know for definite how Brady’s going to utilize Hubbard until competitive action officially starts. Teams don’t tend to give too much away during warmup fixtures, but the Oklahoma State product has shown enough to suggest he’ll be the primary backup McCaffrey and see plenty of the field in Year 1 of his professional career.