The second installment of the series sheds light into the back field. We will take a look at the running backs as well as the fullbacks that are currently on the Carolina Panthers roster. The running backs benefited last year from a well above average offensive line. Our two headed running back monster ended up 3rd in league in rushing, behind teams like the Giants and Falcons. This can be considered as one of the strongest positions on the team with backs named Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Lets take a closer look at the prospects that are on the team.
Deangelo Williams is a beast. Whenever we drafted him, I thought, he would be a finess back. He showed everyone last year that he is a true horse that deserves to be the first down back. I do not expect him to eclipse his numbers from last year, but I do expect him to have another 1000 season. Since we have two running backs that share the load it is easy to say that our running backs are best suited for the playoffs where they are not near as tired as the defenses which oppose them. Look for Deangelo to have another solid season next year.
Smash, as he is called, had a great rookie campaign. No one thought he would compete to be a 1000 yard rusher in his rookie year. He, too, will have a tough time eclipsing his total of last season. I do see him getting more of a chance to reach that 1000 yard plateau however. Jonathan should become the third down, or between the tackles, rusher. Time will tell how our two stars will find a good fit in our running game. It is also possible that John Fox does not want to have a certain player at a set position. He may like to keep teams on their heels by having Deangelo as the third down back, then sliding Stewart into clutch third downs. The selection of Jonathan Stewart in last years draft proved to be another solid pickup by Panther officials.
Mike Goodson, a versatile runningback out of Texas A&M University, was a fourth round pick of the Panthers. I will not even begin to speak of all of the possibilities that could come from a three-headed running back tandem. The New York Giants perfected the three-headed feat last season. Mike can also be a weapon as a slot receiver. I like the vision of him being a blocking back with the ability to cut the corner off for Deangelo and Stewart. He has decent lateral speed, but sometimes he expects to be able to beat everyone to the outside; that will not happen in this professional game. Mike will surely find a niche on this team.
Decori Birmingham was signed to the Panthers practice squad last season. He has experience in the system so he has to have the upper hand going into this years off season workouts. With both Deangelo and Jonathan sitting out with slight injuries Decori has been playing with the first squad. He is expected to battle recently signed undrafted free agents.
Jamall Lee, a running back from Canada, broke the career rushing record at the university he called home for the past four years. He is a big back weighing in at 221 pounds and standing in at 6'1". He also has the quick feet that caught the eye of Panther scouting agents. A 4.39 40-yard dash is something to boast about considering his build. It is unclear how he will handle the mini-camp. I am always a fan of fresh blood, so I hope Jamall well.
Another undrafted free agent signee Markus Manson seems interesting. He was a four-star half-back coming out of high school. He signed with Florida but his best season was his red-shirt fresman year where he amassed almost 400 yards and two touchdowns, and later in his time at Florida he was moved to cornerback. He decided to transfer before his final year of eligibility. He transfered to Valdosta State, where he played last year. I could not find his stats, but he was not considered their number one back. His ability comes in the form of his solid body and fast pace. The Panthers will see if they can turn this former highly-touted recruit into and NFL running back.
Brad Hoover, the Panthers starting full-back last season, is a beast. He proved his worth last year by opening gapping holes for both Deangelo and Jonathan. I witnessed twice ESPN examining Hoover's abilities and strengths. His age seems to be his only problem since his desire to play is unmatchable. If any of our running backs break a huge run make sure to take note of the block that was laid for them by Brad.
Tony Fiammetta was another fourth round selection of the Carolina Panthers. He was rated by most as the best full-back in the draft. He was the first full-back selected, yet in the same round the Bengals target a full-back as well. My best guess is that the Bengals targeted the position strictly because they thought it was a need and the Panthers had already thrown out the first heart (hearts reference). He is very versatile, which means many good things to Panthers management. Its impossible to compare his stats considering he is a full-back, but fresh blood here is good. He will not be competing with Brad Hoover. He will hopefully take in all he can from the seasoned veteran, and become a heir apparent to the outstanding professional.
Wide receivers are next on the list. It may take a few days, because I am attempting to move this week. Tell me what you think!