The Carolina Panthers were missing their top three backs during practice yesterday, as DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and fullback Mike Tolbert were not spotted. All three of them are expected to play in this week’s rivalry game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, since none of their injuries (it remains to be seen if Williams and Stewart are even injured in the first place) seem to be serious. According to the National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson, the Panthers worked out four running backs at practice, which makes it seem likely that at least two of those three running backs above are indeed injured.
The Panthers are likely doing due diligence and being cautious, but this is a situation worth keeping an eye on. None of the four running backs the Panthers worked out are much good, though they are quality options as emergency depth. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB Jalen Parmele, intriguing back Kahlil Bell, former Denver Broncos quality depth backup Lance Ball, and veteran Brandon Jackson were all worked out by the Panthers.
I don’t expect the Panthers to make a move to sign any of them unless if the Panthers do have a significant injury in the backfield. Having your three top backs absent from practice is never a good sign, but there is no evidence that anything amiss. Still, the fact that the Panthers decided to work out four backs is enough to raise some concern, so we can only hope that they are just being cautious. Ideally, the Panthers would only want to sign one of those guys as emergency depth.