Brandon Wegher has beat out Fozzie Whittaker this preseason. It’s hard to debate. On the field, Wegher has produced. Fozzie has looked OK at times, but Wegher has looked good all the time.
So how do you make a decision like this if your Carolina's coaching staff. Whittaker made some timely plays in Carolina's turnaround late last season and broke one in the playoff win over Arizona. But his statistical production is modest to say the least.
Wegher has capitalized on the opportunities given, and it hasn’t been in spurts either. He has consistently made his presence known. Wegher it was touchdowns in two fourth quarter comebacks, or just sound fundamentals in the final preseason match against the Steelers, he's gotten it done.
Carolina gave Wegher a serious look against Pittsburgh this week. Cameron Artis-Payne carried the load in the 1st half, providing few opportunities for Fozzie Whittaker. Although Whittaker saw a touch or two in the second half, Carolina gave the rock to Jordan Todman first, and Wegher next in the second half. This signals that Carolina’s coaching staff has a firm understanding of Whittaker’s ability, but is also carefully evaluating talent that can play a similar role on the team.
So how has Fozzie stacked against Wegher so far?
Final Game vs Steelers
Earlier this week, Ron Rivera described this as a make it or break it game. He indicated that there were some guys this preseason that had forced the staff to be aware of them and seriously consider them as viable options to make the 53-man roster.
Wegher continued to force this coaching staff to notice him. He didn’t have the TDs this week, Todman took care of that. Wegher played hard, consistent, and showed an upside that is as versatile as Whittakers, and what looks to be a bit tougher.
Don’t get me wrong, Whittaker hasn’t been bad. He hasn’t been great either. He did break free in a check-down pass that highlighted his greatest attributes. Whittaker didn’t get his number called much more after that, however.
Wegher, however, did get a notable opportunity to compete, and he made a lot of it. Here’s Wegher early in the game bouncing it outside for a first down.
Wegher seems to have a little tougher running style to him, one that can get down and deep in the hole and make more out of nothing.
Ultimately, coaches are probably looking at guys like Wegher when they don’t have the ball more than when they do. Picking up blitzes and knowing blocking assignments are critical for pro running backs. The backs have to be effective when they do have the ball and not make mistakes when they don’t. Wegher showed poise in toughness in these situations against the Steelers.
Opportunities don’t come often in the NFL. When they do, a guy fighting for relevancy has to make the most of it. Wegher has done it. He’s showed explosiveness and versatility, toughness and durability, and, most importantly, serious commitment to seizing the opportunity.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow me on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles