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Position preview: Running backs

Posted Jul 9, 2013

The Panthers were one of just nine NFL teams last season to top 2,000 rushing yards and one of just 10 to average at least 4.5 yards per carry.

The Panthers also were the first NFL team to have a quarterback lead the team in rushing since 2000.

There's tons of talent in the offensive backfield, and the running back group appears poised to reestablish itself in 2013.

RETURNERS

DeAngelo Williams
Led running backs and finished just four yards behind quarterback Cam Newton for team lead with 737 rushing yards in 2012. … Capped season with a franchise-record 210-yard performance at New Orleans. … Twice turned screen passes into electrifying touchdowns last season, one covering 53 yards and another 43 yards. … Stands as Panthers' all-time leading rusher with 5,784 yards and 43 rushing touchdowns.

Jonathan Stewart
After missing just two games in first four NFL seasons, missed seven games in 2012 with ankle injuries. … Remained productive when healthy, rushing for 336 yards and catching 17 passes for 157 yards. … Ranks second in franchise history with 3,836 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns.

Mike Tolbert
In first season with the Panthers, ranked just one touchdown behind Newton for team lead with seven rushing touchdowns and paced running backs with 27 receptions for 268 yards. … Scored five touchdowns over final three games, all on 1-yard runs. … Piled up 19 touchdowns in 2010 and 2011 with San Diego Chargers before signing as unrestricted free agent with Panthers.

Armond Smith
Small-college speedster got a chance to show it late in the 2012 season, when he joined the active roster following 12 games on the practice squad and returned six kickoffs for 131 yards. … Also notched three special teams tackles. … One of three undrafted rookies to make Cleveland Browns roster in 2011 after tying for second in NFL with 192 rushing yards in preseason.

Tauren Poole
Ran hard throughout the 2012 preseason as an undrafted rookie out of Tennessee but suffered a rib injury in the preseason finale and spent the season on injured reserve. … Produced nine 100-yard rushing games in college.

ROOKIES

Kenjon Barner
Selected in sixth round of the NFL Draft following a remarkable career at Oregon. … Rushed for 3,623 yards and scored 41 rushing touchdowns despite starting just 20 games. … First-team All-American in lone season as a full-time starter, compiling 1,767 rushing yards and 21 rushing touchdowns as a senior.

Michael Zordich
Fullback signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Penn State. … Rushed for 301 yards as a senior and served as lead blocker for 1,000-yard backs as both a senior and junior.



Panthers.com is taking a position-by-position look at the 90-man roster leading up training camp, having previously profiled quarterbacks.