"We're usually around each other, talking about football, talking about family, doing things outside of football," Whittaker said. "We're very close."
The group is close on the depth chart as well.
Jonathan Stewart is entrenched as the starter, but Whittaker, rookie Cameron Artis-Payne and veteran newcomer Jordan Todman are trying to carve out their niche along with undrafted rookie Brandon Wegher.
"There's always competition," Whittaker said. "I'm always competing with everybody. The same pressure that somebody may feel from me, I'm feeling it from them as well. They're pushing me to get better just as I'm, hopefully, pushing them to be their best."
Whittaker has a leg up on the competition, the story said, having recorded a productive season in the Panthers' system – in stark contrast to where he stood this time last year. Stewart and DeAngelo Williams led the way a year ago, and Whittaker was an afterthought, having been signed as a free agent early in training camp because of injuries at the position. Whittaker changed that perception quickly with a remarkable training camp and preseason. Given how injury-prone Panther backs seem to be, Whittaker could be a guy owners are fighting for on the waiver wire at some point this season if he wins the RB2 job and there's an injury.