The time for roster cuts is here! As Ron Rivera has said, some tough cuts look to be coming at running back! Here’s my five running backs that will make the 53-man roster and why the others, some we love, will be cut.
1. J-Stew- We all know J-stew is going make this team. When healthy, he can be a dominant back in the NFL! His durability remains the question. He he’s made it for this long, so without a huge setback, we have to believe we will see Stew enter this year as our healthy lead back. 1000 yards may be in his future!
2. CAP (Cameron Artis-Payne)- The rookie has been doing his thing! In the preseason, he’s toted the rock 12 carries for 59 yards. Not bad numbers for a late round rookie who’s on a team that hasn’t run the ball well in the preseason. He gets the yards many guys don’t get with an off-beat throwback running style! He’s the “other” CAM from Auburn who’s looks to make his name known in the NFL.
3. Jordan Todman- He makes the team because he’s the best kick returner in the NFL with a real ability to carry the ball. He adds gritty play to Carolina’s backfield. With Kelvin Benjamin out, Ted Ginn is needed too much in the receiving game to risk throwing him out there on kickoffs in addition to punts. Todman doing some of the work is more than helpful, it’s necessary!
4. Brandon Wegher- This kid should have never gone undrafted. Had it not been for a domestic violence charge for fighting with brother (yea, his brother!), he could have been a college standout who went far before Gettleman was even considering drafting a running back! The kid from Morningside College came to Carolina unknown, but quickly has made his name known among Panther fans! 10 carries for 39 yards, 2 receptions for 47 yards, and 3 TDs!! This kid is working hard for this spot, and like I always say, hard work beats talent! It doesn't hurt he has a ton of talent as well!
FB. Lee Ward- I have been on the Ward Express for some time now! The path keeps getting clearer much like the paths he clears for our backs! He is just too good and too strong to not keep! He one of better players at blitz pick-ups on this team, all the while blows holes through tackles. It would be nice to have a workhorse fullback in Carolina.
Fozzy Bear- I hate to say it, but he’s kind of the odd man out. 7 yards on 6 carries this preseason is pretty dismal, and he’s not showing what we really need to see. He has some rare flashes, but nothing more. I like the guy, I just don’t feel he’s part of the “best 53” we have to offer.
Mike Tolbert- I know everyone is thinking, “no way no how,” but he really isn’t the fullback Carolina needs. With the above guys, who I think are making the 53-man roster, there just aren’t enough balls to go around to make the vet valuable enough to keep. My big thing is that he only has a year left on his deal, and likely won’t be extended either. In the meantime, last year’s top college fullback is waiting in the wings, and you can be sure he won’t last two weeks on out practice squad. Why risk losing that type of young talent for an clearly regressing oversized half back who calls himself a fullback!
Now I know the main argument against Wegher and Ward edging out Whitaker and Tolbert is that the young’ns have done versus the 2nd and 3rd teams, while Fozzy Bear and Fat Tolbert have gone against the starters. The numbers speak true, however, and if the production from the youngins isn’t enough, the lack of production from Whitaker and Tolbert has to say something. Sorry if the cuts slice towards some fan favorites, but the “best 53” does not always include fan favorites.
By JP Wary
Follow him on Twitter @jp_tre18