5 Panthers players who might see more game time vs. Saints in Week 2

(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) Royce Freeman
(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) Royce Freeman /
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Carolina Panthers
(Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports) Royce Freeman /

Royce Freeman – Carolina Panthers RB

Considering there was a need to take some heat off running back Christian McCaffrey to preserve his health long-term, it was something of a surprise to see the Carolina Panthers give the All-Pro no fewer than 30 combined touches in the season opener.

However, when one considers the poor protection and the need to get their season off with a win, leaning on the face of the franchise was almost a necessity.

Whether this is a trend that continues into the future is unclear. Fourth-round pick Chuba Hubbard didn’t see much time on the field as a primary backup, with head coach Matt Rhule criticizing his inability to read blitz packages following the contest.

This means an opportunity could be emerging for Royce Freeman, who was claimed off waivers after his release from the Denver Broncos. Rhule stated the veteran is still getting up to speed, so with another week of strong preparation in the books, a bigger role within the offense is not entirely out of the question.

Freeman has some proven production under his belt and has been known to pick up the hard yards when needed. He can also catch efficiently out of the backfield, which is another thing the player has going for him.

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It’s far too early to give up on Hubbard just yet. But considering how little the Day 3 picks are featuring for the Panthers so far, introducing Freeman as No. 2 on the depth chart is a distinct possibility.