CHARLOTTE – It became clear over the first couple months of the season that running back C.J. Anderson had a very small role to play for the Panthers, which wasn’t what he envisioned when he signed a one-year deal this offseason.
The Panthers waived Anderson on Monday, giving him the opportunity to latch on with a new team ahead of Week 11.
"When we signed C.J. in the spring he saw a bigger role than he has had, and honestly, at the time so did we," general manager Marty Hurney said. "But Christian McCaffrey has taken so much of the offense and so much of the plays, we just made the decision that this was the best thing for all parties involved."
Anderson spent the first five years of his career with the Broncos, who cut him after his first 1,000-yard rushing season. He then signed with Carolina, where he planned to serve as a more powerful complement to starting running back Christian McCaffrey.
“I thought this was the best football fit for me, for my style and my game,” Anderson said right after he signed in May. “Me and McCaffrey can feed off each other in a lot of ways… we’ll be a good one-two punch.”
But the Panthers have opted to keep feeding the eighth overall pick from a year ago, and McCaffrey is providing plenty of punch on his own. He has been a true workhorse, playing 96.3 percent of the snaps through nine games, more than any running back in the NFL.
Anderson was averaging just six snaps per game. He carried the ball 24 times for 104 yards, and his one reception went for a 24-yard touchdown.
Carolina is clearly hitching its wagon to McCaffrey, who has been outstanding with 1,018 total yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. He has already carried the ball more times (123) and rushed for more yards (579) than he did his entire rookie season.
"Everybody has seen it. Christian is an all-around back who fits our offense perfectly," Hurney said. "He's a three-down player. He's on the field all the time, and we feel really good about him."
The depth behind McCaffrey now consists of Cameron Artis-Payne, who has only been active twice this season and has not yet touched the ball. Artis-Payne, a fifth-round draft choice in 2015, has 99 career carries for 422 yards and four touchdowns. He hasn't had many opportunities, but the Panthers are confident in his ability to step in if needed.