Seattle shouldn't forget DeAngelo Williams

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- So the Seattle Seahawks say they can't let Cam Newton run on them, that they must force the Carolina Panthers quarterback to throw to beat them.

"Which I don't think he can do,'' Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said in ESPN.com colleague Terry Blount's report.

Two words: DeAngelo Williams.

Carolina's goal is to go to a more traditional running game that doesn't rely totally on Newton's legs. Not that they won't use the read-option that was successful a year ago, but they want to use it less and the running backs more.

Williams will be the workhorse.

The Carolina running game has been criticized since it became official Jonathan Stewart will miss at least the first five games recovering from an ankle injury. There is almost a woe-is-me tone that half of "Double Trouble" is out.

But consider: Stewart was out the final five games last season and the Panthers won four of them. In the final game against New Orleans, as meaningless as it was, Williams rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.

He had 93 yards on 22 carries two weeks earlier in a victory over San Diego.

So the Panthers won't rely totally on Newton's ability to run or complete passes if they stick to the game plan of new offensive coordinator Mike Shula. They'll try to pound the ball with Williams and fullback Mike Tolbert, who appears fully recovered from his hamstring injury that kept him sidelined during the preseason.

One back can be trouble, too. Just ask the Seahawks who rely heavily on Marshawn Lynch.

"We've got a lot of naysayers, man," Williams said. "They can believe what they want to believe, but when the clock starts on Sunday, you ask that defense over there at the end of the game if [we] have a running game, an O-line, a receiver or a quarterback.

"They're the ones that will have to defend us."

Williams is ready to handle his share of the load. He's done it before, rushing for a team-record 1,515 yards in 2008 and 1,117 yards in 2009. He rushed for 737 yards last season sharing the backfield with Stewart for nine games.

"Nothing's changed at all," Williams said. "Same preparation. Same attitude. Be productive. Don't try, but make the best of the opportunity and help the team win.''

Statistics show the production of most running backs drops after the age of 30. Williams, who turned 30 in April, isn't worried about that.

Neither is head coach Ron Rivera, who actually made a joke about it.

"He told me he was 28," Rivera said. "I need to talk to him."

Rivera paused, then added, "I don't see [dropping off]. He finished strong last year and I was really happy for him. He really works hard. He does things the right way.''

Seattle can't overlook that.