The Panthers are going to have to make some changes to their high-octane offense, and it will likely include starting a guy who wasn’t even active this week.
According to Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers are awaiting the results of an MRI on running back Jonathan Stewart’s hamstring strain, but coach Ron Rivera said: “It’s going to be at least a week.”
Backup Fozzy Whittaker ran 16 times for 100 yards against the 49ers yesterday, but Rivera said they prefer to use him as a change-of-pace back, along with fullback Mike Tolbert.
So with Stewart out this week against the Vikings, they could be starting Cameron Artis-Payne, who hasn’t played in either of this year’s games.
Of course, they’re playing a Vikings team that has a bit of a backfield issue of their own at the moment, so they’re not going to get much sympathy there.
Artis-Payne, last year’s fifth-round pick from Auburn, had 45 carries for 183 yards as a rookie. He operated in a similar system late in 2015 when Stewart was dealing with another injury. Of course, that’s often enough with Stewart, who has played all 16 games three times in his previous eight NFL seasons, and not since 2011.