A 2015 fifth-round pick, Artis-Payne has taken 99 carries for 422 yards (4.3 average) and four touchdowns in 23 career games, getting most of his playing time when Jonathan Stewart was injured. The Panthers' decision not to draft a running back suggested the 25-year-old would replace Stewart, but the team then signed C.J. Anderson on Monday to fill the role. Artis-Payne now figures to compete with Fozzy Whittaker for the No. 3 job behind Anderson and Christian McCaffrey.
While it would've been surprising if Carolina used an early pick on a running back for a second straight year, it did seem likely that the team would find a body in the middle or late rounds to compete with Artis-Payne for Jonathan Stewart's old role. The Panthers will still bring in competition in the form of undrafted free agents -- and possibly a veteran at some point -- but the decision to pass on a running back in the draft does hint at some degree of confidence in Artis-Payne and Christian McCaffrey. A 2015 fifth-round pick, Artis-Payne is comparable to the 2016-17 version of Stewart, offering good power and size but limited speed and pass-game skills. He's taken 99 caries for 422 yards (4.3 average) and four touchdowns in 23 career games, doing most of his damage in contests Stewart missed. McCaffrey also figures to take on some of the 198 carries that went to Stewart last season.
A 2015 fifth-round pick, Artis-Payne has taken 99 carries for 422 yards (4.3 average) and four touchdowns in 23 career games, with most of that work coming in contests Stewart missed. The Panthers haven't signed a replacement since losing the 31-year-old to the Giants in free agency, and they probably won't prioritize RBs early in the draft after using the No. 8 overall pick on Christian McCaffrey last year. The most likely plan features McCaffrey getting a sizable uptick from last year's 117 carries (7.3 game), dominating passing downs while splitting early down work with Artis-Payne or another player. Barring an injury to his more talented teammate, Artis-Payne would have a tough time matching Stewart's total of 198 carries (in 15 games) from last season. It also won't come as any surprise if the Panthers bring in competition during the middle rounds of the upcoming draft, or perhaps in the late stages of free agency.
Artis-Payne finished with 18 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown in 13 games played this season.
Artis-Payne, a fifth-round pick in 2015, played just 10 games over his first couple seasons, so this year was his first as a regular member of Carolina's 53-man roster. Despite reaching that status, however, he was handed half as many carries this year as his previous low mark for a season. While his career average of 4.3 yards per rush isn't too shabby, Artis-Payne just hasn't been able to crack the Panthers' backfield rotation. He'll aim to finally do so in 2018, the final year of his rookie contract.
Artis-Payne rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in Monday's 45-21 win over Miami.
Artis-Payne zig-zagged for a seven-yard touchdown in the third quarter, putting Carolina up by three scores for his first score in over a year. Artis-Payne's seven carries were a season high and the bulk of his production came on one 43-yard gain. Given the beating Carolina put on Miami and the possible desire to conserve the rushing abilities of John Stewart, Cam Newton and others, it is hard to predict whether Monday's performance will lead to similar performances down the line. At this point, it's probably worth waiting for an encore before taking Artis-Payne too seriously.
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