Panthers sign ex-Broncos running back C.J. Anderson to replace Jonathan Stewart
Anderson joins Christian McCaffrey in a stacked backfield
Anderson, who spent the first five years of his career with the Broncos, became a free agent in mid-April Over the past four seasons, during which he handled the majority of the carries for the Broncos, Anderson averaged 4.4 yards per attempt and five rushing touchdowns per season. In his first full 16-game season last year, he hit the 1,000-yard mark for the first time, even though he was stuck in a miserable, quarterback-less Broncos offense.
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Anderson's been a solid, if not great running back since leaving Cal for the NFL. When he's on his game, he's good bordering on great. But inconsistency has plagued him throughout his career.
"He's such a talented runner," general manager Marty Hurney said, per The Charlotte Observer. "He's got great vision, plays with great pad level and runs with excellent leverage and gets the extra yards after contact."
In Carolina, Anderson joins a backfield that is led by last year's first-round pick, the multidimensional Christian McCaffrey, but he should still get opportunities to carry the ball. Last season, Stewart, , led the team with 198 carries -- 81 more than McCaffrey, who contributed significantly more in the passing game by leading the team in receptions with 80. McCaffrey might see his carries increase in his second professional season, which means Anderson might not eclipse the 200-carry mark, but Anderson should still expect to garner a decent-sized workload considering he's joining a run-happy offense. Together -- and with Cam Newton, of course -- they should form a formidable rushing attack.
Funnily enough, Stewart played a role in the signing.
"As far as ground and pound, the Keep Pounding slogan that Carolina likes to (use), the ground and pound game I think fits (me) well," Anderson said, per The Charlotte Observer. "Breaking tackles and finding ways to use that to make long runs and bigger plays, also catching the ball out of the backfield, too.
"But having a guy like McCaffrey, who's super shifty and also can do some of the same things, it can be a great complementary (relationship) with each other."
Anderson isn't a superstar, but he's an upgrade over the older Stewart. And Carolina is an upgrade for Anderson, who gets to play alongside an NFL-caliber quarterback in an offense that should lean on its running backs due to its lack of high-quality receivers. In short, Carolina was always a destination that made sense for Anderson. On Monday, the pairing finally happened.
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