When the Carolina Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey in round one they instantly signaled a shake up at the running backs position. Historically, late first round picks get a decent amount of playing time right out of the gates. You can safely assume that the eighth overall pick will receive a significant amount of reps on day one. Those reps need to be taken away from someone, making the group one to watch closely.
Here is the latest on the Carolina Panthers running backs.
The one name besides Christian McCaffrey that is absolutely safe is Jonathan Stewart. In fact, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stated yesterday that Stewart won’t be effected much by the addition of CMC. “Jonathan will always do what he does” Rivera said after Tuesday’s practice. “Christian will have his role and will do those things accordingly. I’m not going to tell you specifically how we are going to do it.”
Apparently, Jonathan Stewart’s role is not only safe, but unchanged.
Fozzy Whitaker continues to be a large part of the first string offense during practice. He is being used how Fozzy has always been used, namely running to the edges and catching passes out of the backfield. Conventional wisdom says Fozzy is in the most danger of losing reps (or even a roster spot)to McCaffrey. I am not fully convinced. Whitaker is highly thought of among the coaching staff as a reliable and inexpensive option.
Cameron Artis-Payne has seen increased reps with the first string, as Jonathan Stewart (wisely) is not taking many OTA reps. Artis-Payne is used as the Jonathan Stewart backup, running between the tackles on most of his touches. Could this mean his roster position is safe? Maybe, maybe not. Christian McCaffrey was a frequent “between the tackles” runner at Stanford. If the Carolina Panthers feel McCaffrey could also carry the load should Stewart miss playing time, Artis-Payne may be on the outside looking in.
The speedy local project Jalen Simmons at this point looks to be playing for a practice squad position again this season. Simmons could be in the Panthers long term plans once Fozzy Whitaker is no longer with the team.