Don't forget about the Panthers' other rookie running back

Jordan Scarlett at rookie minicamp

CHARLOTTE – Between the draft and the Panthers’ rookie minicamp, there was a lot of talk related to Carolina’s running back depth.

Most of the chatter centered on the running back the Panthers didn’t draft, not the one that they did.

That’s just fine by Jordan Scarlett, selected in the fifth round by a Carolina team that then moved to sign undrafted but better-known back Elijah Holyfield.

Besides, Scarlett has veterans rather than rookies on his brain.

“It will be interesting to find out what it feels like to go against the vets, the speed and the tempo of that,” Scarlett said. “I’m waiting for that to happen.”

Scarlett said that after the Panthers’ rookie minicamp, his first but not his full introduction to NFL practices. The next step comes Tuesday, when rookies and veterans alike take part in the first of 10 voluntary organized team activities.

“I can’t wait for the vets to really show us the ropes,” Scarlett said.

At rookie minicamp, Scarlett shared reps with Holyfield – son of boxing champion Evander Holyfield – and second-year back Reggie Bonnafon. At OTAs, the rotation will be headed by none other than Christian McCaffrey, along with veterans Cameron Artis-Payne and Elijah Hood.

“Christian is a great running back all around,” Scarlett said. “I’m not saying he can’t run between the tackles, but we could take some of that off his shoulders for sure. I feel like that could be a great dynamic.”

The “we” Scarlett was referring to was he and Holyfield. The two competed against each other in the SEC – Scarlett at Florida, Holyfield at Georgia – and they did the same during the draft process and then at rookie minicamp.

While the Panthers drafted Scarlett, Carolina and everyone else kept passing on Holyfield, whose bloodlines helped make him a bigger story.

So does that bother Scarlett?

“Not really because at the end of the day, I don’t even think it’s about where you got drafted; it’s about how long you stay,” Scarlett said. “I feel like it’s all about production. We’ll just have to see how we produce to maintain our job here.

“We met at the combine, talked some, spent a couple of days together. Since we’ve been here, we’ve definitely gotten to know each other a lot more and have built a good relationship.”

Both were a part of two-back systems last season, with similarly productive results: Scarlett averaged 5.9 yards per carry, while Holyfield averaged 6.4. Scarlett believes both he and Holyfield benefited from playing in the SEC, but now it’s about the next level.

“I don’t have any specific goals other than just getting out there and playing,” Scarlett said. “It’s been a dream of mine to be in the NFL, so it’s just about getting out there – whether it’s on special teams or carrying the ball.”

View photos from the final day of the 2019 rookie minicamp in Charlotte.

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