CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Last season, a lot of fans thought the Carolina Panthers weren’t using their running backs properly.
On Wednesday, one very influential person weighed in and stressed the importance of the running game.
“For us the running game is key,’’ quarterback Cam Newton said during a break between minicamp practices. “I think last year or the years past, and I don’t want to dwell on that during the interview, but the success for the Carolina Panthers has been getting our running backs involved in the game early and letting those guys do what they do.’’
Early last season, the Panthers used the read option extensively. After a 2-8 start, they went to a more traditional running game and finished with a 7-9 record. Coach Ron Rivera and others have indicated the Panthers want to utilize the running game in a manner similar to the way they did the second half of last season.
“I feel like we have unbelievable tandem, especially with the additions that we have in [rookie] Kenjon [Barner] and other guys that’s capable of running the football as well as catching the ball out of the backfield,’’ Newton said. “That’s a field that we have to keep the defense honest with. Everyone knows we have playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, but for us to be successful, I feel and everyone feels on the offensive side of the ball that we have to run the football, that we will run the football.’’