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Safety Dean Marlowe and six healthy scratches, among them running back Cameron Artis-Payne, are inactive for the Panthers’ season opener at the Denver Broncos.
Good question, partially because it’s tough to answer. I do think panthers jersey cheap Stewart is being overlooked a bit by outsiders. The team has entrusted him with the lion’s share of carries the past two seasons. He’s delivered and is ready to do the same if asked again.
I don’t think the team is overlooking the importance of Whittaker, who re-signed with Carolina through the 2018 season after posting career highs in rushing yards and receiving yards and receptions. Whittaker is more of a change-of-pace back, a role somewhat set apart from what Stewart and potentially Artis-Payne or a 2017 draft choice could be asked to do. The last time we saw Artis-Payne was in Week 5 of last season, when he rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns in place of an injured Stewart.
The Panthers have been comfortable with Stewart toting the load, but with the expectation that the offense wants to move closer to its power running roots, it could provide an opportunity for someone to share the load. It’s just too early to say who or how much.
Stewart had just ripped off a 59-yard run on the first play of the game. Rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne then entered the game and ran into defensive end Michael Bennett, who forced the ball out. If Seattle recovers that ball and keeps the game scoreless, who knows how the first half unfolds.
Instead, Tolbert grabbed it and the Panthers finished the game-opening drive with a touchdown.
“I didn’t know what happened. I blocked my guy, and I looked down and the ball was rolling at my feet, so I picked it up,” Tolbert said.
Artis-Payne flashed an appreciative smile after hearing Tolbert’s description of the recovery. He knows as well as anyone how big that play was.
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The Panthers have been awarded 16 compensatory picks in franchise history, most recently turning two fifth-rounders in 2015 into linebacker David Mayo and running back Cameron Artis-Payne. Previous picks that made a notable impact are few and far between, with offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner (2005) and punter Brad Nortman (2012) arguably the most productive picks of the past. That could partially be because the Panthers have earned a compensatory pick in the first four rounds just once. In 2011, as compensation for defensive end Julius Peppers, the Panthers received a third-round pick that they used on defensive tackle Sione Fua.
As for the first part of your question, I’ll remain mostly silent, other than stating the obvious about Super Bowl LI: seeing the Panthers prevail would have been sweeter.
With running back Jonathan Stewart watching from the sideline like nearly every starter, the Panthers’ second-year running back played like a starter – from the very start.
Artis-Payne returned the opening kickoff 22 yards and then refused to give the ball back, carrying it on each of the first five snaps for 28 yards. He finished the night with 77 rushing yards on 18 carries and added a pair of receptions for 18 yards.
The Panthers have been awarded 17 compensatory picks in franchise history, most recently using a pair of fifth-round choices on linebacker David Mayo and running back Cameron Artis-Payne in 2015. This is just the second time the Panthers have been awarded a third-round selection.