Razzle, Dazzle and Bowling Ball

No offense in the NFL can be consistently potent without having a successful ground game. Over the years, the Carolina Panthers have had some solid running backs. Some of the running backs that I can remember are Tim Biakabutuka, Stephen Davis, and DeShaun Foster.

Everyone remembers the 2009 NFL season when both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart rushed for 1,000 yards. They were the fifth pair in NFL history to reach that miraculous mark. 

After that season, the Carolina Panthers were confident that they had the best tandem in the NFL. The Panthers then resigned DeAngelo Williams to a five year, $43 million extension in 2011 and on this date two years ago they signed Jonathan Stewart to a five year deal worth $36.5 million. The 2014 season is around the corner and the Panthers haven’t seen much return from their investments. The front office restructured both of those deals and there were rumors that Williams would be traded in the offseason.

Once again, the Panthers have a talented backfield, except this time the backfield is overpopulated. The backs that are fighting for playing time are: DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, Kenjon Barner and Darrin Reaves.

As of right now all are healthy. So, who is going to start the season number one on the depth chart? Who will finish the season with the most carries? Who will be the dark horse?
I am going to make an argument for each of the running backs….

1. DeAngelo Williams (Razzle) – is quick, explosive and has great play making ability.
2. Jonathan Stewart (Dazzle) – strong like a fullback and quick.
3. Mike Tolbert (Bowling Ball) –is built like a tank and is quicker than he looks.
4. Kenjon Barner – small and fast like a track star.
5. Darrin Reaves – low center of gravity, not shy of contact and makes smooth cuts.

DeAngelo WilliamsI believe that DeAngelo Williams will still be number one on the depth chart to start the season. He has been the top running back on the Panthers for several years and I don’t see them taking that title away from him. If the offensive line can block for Williams, and he can stay healthy, I see Williams getting over 1,000 rushing yards this season.

I hope they use Mike Tolbert even more this season. I am huge Tolbert fan because something always good happens when he has the ball. It takes more than one player to get him down and he always falls forward, and gets the extra yard. Tolbert should be getting all of the goal line carries.
Watch out for Darrin Reaves! I think he will overtake Barner as number three on the depth chart. I went to East Carolina University and I saw Reaves run all over our defense when he played for UAB. This player has the potential to be a starter in the NFL, and could become number two on the depth chart by the end of the upcoming season.

Who do you want to see starting for the Panthers in the backfield on September 7 against that tough Tampa Bay Buccaneers D-line? Do you have any nicknames for Barner or Reaves?