The Carolina Panthers identity has been predicated on a dominant defense and a bruising running game in 2015 that will be no different; especially with the uncertainty in the passing game since Benjamin went down. We have always been a better team when the running game is successful opening up big plays for Cam Newton and it tells us the offensive line is doing its job. With the loss of Benjamin I believe the running game has to step up taking pressure off our young wide receivers and Cam Newton especially!
We have a great mix of veterans and young guys who have different running styles to give defenses different looks on every play. The lead dog will be Jonathan Stewart complemented by Cameron Artis Payne, Fozzy Whittaker, Jordan Todman and undrafted rookie Brandon Wegher who is a long shot, yes but has open some eyes and going to make it a tough decision the coaches. We have great depth at the running back position and all of these guys have something to offer and help our team win football games.
Stewart is entering his eighth season with the Panthers; first as the feature back as Deangelo Williams is now with the Steelers. Stewart is a bruiser when running the ball, he just keeps those legs going fighting for every inch. He also is a great pass catcher on screen passes or if the play breaks down. He has great ability to take those short passes and turn them into big gainers. A great compliment to Newton, who is also a dual threat this combination could be very effective this season. Last season was a decent year he rushed for 809 yards and three touchdowns he also caught a touchdown as well.
This season I see a breakout year for him because his workload will increase being the featured back and in his career he has averaged 4.6 yards per carry allowing for the offense to be ahead of the chains a ton when he’s been in the game. He is a great player and will thrive with this lead role helping the offense get off to good starts and like I said take the pressure off of Newton. Stewart has an amazing opportunity to become a nightmare for defenses every game on every down. it’s going to be fun to watch.
The Panthers needed to add a running back to create more depth at the position and “replace” Deangelo Williams and get younger. Although it can be hard to replace the franchise leading rusher, it was time to get younger and move towards the future. He was drafted in the fifth round out of Auburn he had a solid two-year career where he rushed for 2,218 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has shown great potential in limited action in the preseason showing he has the burst and the ability to be a solid NFL player.
I really like that he has the same bruiser mentality as Jonathan Stewart he will do anything to gain the extra yard. I also like the fact that he is coming from the best conference in college football the SEC shows that he can perform against the toughest of opponents. I am really excited to see how he develops because what I’ve seen of him so far I feel he can become really good by learning on the job and from the veterans that we have on our team.
The team brought Todman in to improve the special teams and add more depth. He has impressed and is going to be one of the main kick returner’s where he has excelled in the past, averaging 25.9 yards per kick return paired with Ted Ginn could be a deadly combination. He is very versatile as well and could be used in many different ways in the offense giving guys a blow on third down or even becoming the next Deangelo Williams catching screen passes turning them into big plays.
He is a great addition to this team because he is not just a one trick pony that’s the best thing in any sport because you’re able to fill multiple needs with one person. I love this pickup and he is making us look smart with solid preseason performances thus far I’m very excited to see how he gels with this offense.
Whittaker breaks the mold of our bruiser running backs he uses his speed and agility as his weapon. He is just 5’10 205 a pound, allowing him to squeeze through the small holes the offensive line is able to create. He also has a quality many of our running backs have taken short passes and turning them into big splash plays. Last season he had the biggest play in the playoffs taking a screen pass all the way for a touchdown, giving us all the momentum we needed to finish off the playoff victory. He has great experience in our offense, so I think it’s going to be hard to leave him off the roster because of that it’s going to be tough for the coaches to make the cuts at the running back position I’m glad I don’t have to do that.
The best story for the Carolina Panthers this preseason is undrafted running back Brandon Wegher. A preseason where the offense has been pretty stagnant Wegher has impressed, scoring three touchdowns and showing he has the ability to be a solid NFL player. It’s been a long hard journey for him starting at the University of Iowa in 2009 and finishing up at Morning-side college where he holds records for rushing yards with 3,815 total touchdowns with 52 and rushing touchdowns with 48!
As you can see, his good play is not a fluke, he knows how to play the game of football and a big reason why is opening coaches’ eyes is going to be difficult to leave off of this roster; if we put him on our practice squad I don’t think he won’t last long with his impressive preseason. it would be awesome to see his hard work pay off and somehow make this roster sports are better when the underdog comes out of nowhere and lives out their dream. He is still a long shot because of all the depth and talent we have at this position,but it would be a great story for him!
The running back position is very strong and is going to be difficult to cut down, but whatever decisions are made we are solid and will be a great complement to Cam Newton and the offense. With the loss of Benjamin I think the running game is even more important to take pressure off the young receiving corps we are now dealing with! I have all the faith in the world in these guys and it’s going to be fun to watch!! Go Panthers!!