The worst part of the NFL offseason isn't the lack of news. It's the news about injuries suffered during meaningless football. Already, one player has seen his 2018 season likely end before it could even begin.
According to the Panthers' website, running back Fozzy Whittaker tore the ACL in his right knee during a non-contact drill on Monday. As a result, the Panthers have placed Whittaker on injured reserve.
In an Instagram post, Whittaker vowed to return ... and quoted Captain America.
Whittaker, who is set to become a free agent next year, might not be a household name around the league, but he's an important role player for the Panthers. He didn't do much last season, but in 2016, he racked up 491 yards from scrimmage in a limited role. It could be a devastating injury for Whittaker, who will turn the dreaded running back age of 30 after the season, when he'll enter free agency.
For the Panthers, the loss of Whittaker is suddenly more manageable considering they just signed former Broncos running back C.J. Anderson to a one-year deal. Anderson should form one of the league's best backfield tandems with last year's first-round pick, Christian McCaffrey, who totaled 1,086 yards and seven touchdowns from scrimmage last season. Anderson is also coming off a 1,000-yard season.
Behind Anderson and McCaffrey is where things get a bit dicey for the Panthers. Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood, the two other running backs on the roster, will likely compete for reps behind the top duo. Artis-Payne accumulated 97 yards from scrimmage with the Panthers last season while Hood played in only one game with the Raiders last season. Most teams, of course, don't have reliable third and fourth options on their running back depth charts, so the Panthers aren't alone in this, but it also shows why Whittaker would've mattered to them.
Last season, the Panthers finished as the fourth-best rushing team in football en route to a playoff appearance.