The Panthers on Friday released RB Cameron Artis-Payne after 4 years with the team. He had re-signed in the offseason after finishing his rookie contract. The backup plan doesn't seem clear yet for Carolina, and the #2 RB might not even be on the roster yet. The "unofficial" depth chart on the team site lists Reggie Bonnafon -- a 2018 undrafted free agent -- 2nd on the depth chart. Carolina drafted Jordan Scarlett in Round 5 and signed Elijah Holyfield as a UDFA. All were following CAP into preseason games. It's Christian McCaffrey and then question marks, which can only help the starter's workload.
The Panthers' official website calls Cameron Artis-Payne the "feature back" while Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) is sidelined. That's probably an exaggeration. Fozzy Whittaker and Mike Tolbert will also be involved. Artis-Payne averaged 12.7 touches per game with Stewart out last year. Expect similar volume in Week 3. That makes him just a RB3 or flex option against a stout Vikings defense.
The Panthers believe rookie Cameron Artis-Payne is capable of stepping in as the lead back if Jonathan Stewart goes down. "He's a complete back," HC Ron Rivera said. "I watched games last year where he took games over. That's what you saw with [Todd] Gurley. That's what you saw with the kid from Wisconsin [Melvin Gordon]. And he played in the SEC. He played good, quality football against good, quality competition." Artis-Payne dropped to the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft at least in part because of mediocre measurables (5'10, 212 pounds, 4.53 40 time). But he busted out for 1,608 yards and 13 TDs on a 5.3 per-carry average in his final season at Auburn. Artis-Payne shouldn't have much trouble beating out Fozzy Whittaker, Darrin Reaves and Jordan Todman for the backup job behind the injury-prone Stewart.
The Panthers selected RB Cameron Artis-Payne in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Auburn product exploded for 1,608 yards and 13 scores on a 5.3 per-carry average this past season. He's well-built at 5'10 and 212 pounds and ran a decent 4.53-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Artis-Payne isn't a homerun threat but gets upfield with nice burst. He could immediately step in as a change-of-pace option behind Jonathan Stewart in Carolina. His only competitors for that role are Fozzy Whittaker and Jordan Todman. Artis-Payne more than likely lacks the upside to emerge as a lead back, though.
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