Raheem Blackshear - Carolina Panthers RB
Miles Sanders was one of the biggest additions to the Carolina Panthers roster this off-season - and with good reason. The former Philadelphia Eagle enjoyed the best season of his young career in 2022, finishing with the fifth most rushing yards league-wide en route to a Super Bowl and Pro Bowl appearance.
Sanders will see the lion’s share of the backfield touches so long as he is healthy and available. Chuba Hubbard is penciled in as the second-string option, and he’s looked solid in practices thus far.
However, it’s second-year running back Raheem Blackshear that has caught the attention of many throughout workouts and training camp.
Blackshear saw limited action as an undrafted rookie in 2022 but was still able to produce in that small sample size. He accumulated 23 carries for 77 rushing yards and three touchdowns, also adding 10 receptions for 93 receiving yards.
Where Blackshear also brings considerable value to the table are his contributions to special teams. He fielded both punt and kick-off returns as a rookie and appears to be the frontrunner for those duties again in 2023, especially with the cut of injured Marquez Stevenson.
His best return came on a kick-off, where Blackshear took the ball 66 yards in the Panthers’ favor.
Head coach Frank Reich has a proclivity for getting running backs targeted in the passing game for his offense, as well. That’s an area that I believe the shifty, change-of-pace player can excel in.
Blackshear has exceptionally quick and concise footwork. His movements as a route runner are fluid and he can change speeds suddenly, often creating the necessary separation to be an appealing target for his quarterback.
While he amassed just 410 carries over his collegiate career at Rutgers and then Virginia Tech, he caught 123 passes and 7 touchdowns. Playing the pass-catching role from the backfield is one that Blackshear clearly feels comfortable operating.