In addition to Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert has yet to play in a preseason game as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Panthers HC Ron Rivera said he is hopeful – “fingers crossed” – Tolbert will be back for the Week 1 game against Seattle.
Rookie running back Kenjon Barner, the sixth-round pick from Oregon, has been out since spraining his ankle last week against Baltimore. Barner is still wearing a protective boot, and Rivera called his status day-to-day.
That leaves DeAngelo Williams, the franchise’s career rushing leader, and a pair of undrafted backs in Tauren Poole and Armond Smith, who have six career carries between them – all by Smith.
Rivera doesn’t anticipate the Panthers signing any free-agent backs.
“We feel good about DeAngelo and the young running backs that we have in place right now,” Rivera said. “And we’ll go forward with those guys.”
Williams' ADP has risen into 6th round, but if Stewart returns, Williams would be basically useless. He has posted the #7 and #4 FP/touch over the past two seasons, so there's upside here, but late-season uncertainty of workload should temper full-season expectations.