Panthers coach Ron Rivera is optimistic rookie running back Kenjon Barner will see his first action Sunday when Carolina visits the Arizona Cardinals.
That should help ease the load on the 30-year-old DeAngelo Williams, who carried 62 times in three games.
Barner impressed in training camp with his breakaway speed, but a sprained foot sidelined him for the first month of the season. The sixth-round pick from Oregon returned to full practice this week.
Rivera says he'll use Barner as a "scat back" similar to how the New Orleans Saints use Darren Sproles.
"He's a guy with great hands out of the backfield," Rivera said. "He's an elusive runner when he gets the ball in his hands. He has home run potential out in open space and that's where you have some tough matchups."
This can only be bad news for Williams, who may see a decline in touches and snaps if the Panthers are intent on getting Barner involved in the offense.