After a great showing through out the preseason from Cameron Artis-Payne, many people predicted him to get his share of snaps in the week one opener against Jacksonville. Well, that didn't happen. In fact, he got nothing at all. He could possibly see some snaps against the Texans this week depending on how the run game and Cam's backfield protects him.
Payne led the Panthers in rushing this preseason with 139 yards on 30 carries with one touchdown. Payne looked very good being patient behind his blockers and then bursting through holes quickly into open field. His 4.63 yards per carry is a solid number for any rookie rusher coming into the league. He got to run with the first team multiple times as well in the preseason and had success there too. Despite all this, Payne saw nothing against the Jaguars.
With JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Vince Wilfork coming to town, the Panthers offensive line will see one of their biggest tests of the entire season in week two. Aside from running the ball, there was one thing that stood out for Payne through training camp and the preseason--he showed up well in pass blocking. Facing one of the best front seven's in the league, making Cam Newton vulnerable to being hit is something Carolina can ill afford. Payne prides himself on his pass blocking ability.
“That’s the easy part,” Artis-Payne said in an interview with Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer back in August. “One of my friends that was already in the NFL said pass blocking will keep you in the league. Ever since I heard that maybe five, six, seven years ago, that’s just something I knew I had to do. I think I’m pretty good at that.”
While his pass blocking is also a plus for the Panthers, his patience and running ability is something the Panthers should take advantage of at some point, or at least give him a few reps to try.
“He’s incredibly patient as a running back, and you don’t see that a lot,” fullback Mike Tolbert added about Payne. “Special guys have that skill set. He’s patient, he knows when to hit the hole and when to make the right reads.”
Payne did nothing but improve week in and week out during OTA's, training camp, and preseason. To abandon him now would probably only be hurting him and his confidence coming out of the preseason. It's not like the Panthers were tearing it up in the running game against the Jaguars last week either.
By Don't Be Tripp'n Morgan
Follow him on Twitter @TrippMorgan6