The Panthers have lost a versatile member of their offense before contact drills have even begun. Fozzy Whittaker will miss the season with a torn ACL.
The Panthers have lost a versatile member of their offense before contact drills have even begun. Fozzy Whittaker will miss the season with a torn ACL. The injury will leave Ron Rivera without a valuable backup in the offensive backfield.
Whittaker wasn’t slated to get at on of touches this year for the Panthers, but his versatility will be missed. Carolina really valued him as a player who could play a number of different roles. His ability to run the ball, pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield provided the team significant depth at running back.
In truth, it will be difficult to replace everything he provided the team. The recent signing of C.J. Anderson likely gives the Panthers enough classic rushers, but they may dip into free agency for another third down back. It’s possible Cameron Artis-Payne can fill that role but the team has always seemed cautious to rely on the former Auburn star.
The news about Whittaker’s injury also helps explain Carolina’s decision to claim Elijah Hood off waivers last week. Originally, it seemed that might be adding to a position of real depth for the team.
The injury to Whittaker will also give new life to undrafted free agent Reggie Bonnafon. The former Louisville quarterback was brought in originally to provide competition to Artis-Payne. The decision to sign Anderson last week seemed to indicate that Bonnafon was on the outside of the running back roster looking in. Now he will almost certainly be given every chance to earn a roster spot during preseason.
This could signal the end of Whittaker’s time with the Panthers. He was already due to become a free agent at the end of this season, and it’s unlikely the team will be in a rush to bring the 29-year-old back after a serious injury. There’s a chance he could come back to Charlotte next season, but there are certainly no guarantees.
The only silver lining from the Panthers perspective is they will have time to sign a replacement before the preseason begins in earnest. It’s not a move the Panthers wanted to make, but Whittaker’s injury may make it inevitable.