Since having somewhat of a career year a few years ago, DeAngelo Williams hasn’t seen too much work and touches coming his way, keeping plenty still in his tank as seen last season in the final week of the season. The Carolina Panthers, with high hopes and plenty of injury problems to other running backs, will probably lean on him more than before this time around.
Williams ran for 737 yards on 173 carries last season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. He might not be as constantly explosive as he was in 2008 or before his injury in 2010, but he has never had a season averaging less than 4.1 yards per carry, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that an added workload will benefit both him and the Panthers.
Jonathan Stewart is currently recovering from surgeries on both ankles, but he is expected to be back in week 1. Mike Tolbert, the guy who runs in for touchdowns and gets first down in short yardage situations, is also out with a hamstring injury but should be back pretty soon as well.
Cam Newton has led the Panthers in rushing last season with 741 yards, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he takes a lot on himself once more next year, although the Panthers are trying to curb down on his wild-card decision making and start axing his mistake-prone decision making to a certain degree, without actually limiting him to an extent where he’s no longer unpredictable.
In short, the Panthers are trying to go for a more conventional offensive approach, which means less committee at running back, and more of a leading man who gets most of the carries. Kenjon Barner is going to help, and Stewart is a very worthy second back, but for the number one guy in the backfield, Williams is the only worthy option, and will most likely not disappoint if he gets the chance to do more than he has over the last couple of seasons.