|Panthers' Williams doesn't mind sharing with rookie Stewart|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 03 May 2008 10:27|
Williams finally became the featured back in February when Foster was released, only to perhaps lose the job last weekend when the Panthers took bruising Jonathan Stewart with the 13th pick in the draft.
But if the former Memphis star and 2006 first-round pick is upset about sharing the spotlight and carries, he sure was doing a good job of hiding it at Saturday's minicamp.
``It didn't bother me at all. I still have the same mind-set whether I'm the starter or not the starter,'' Williams said. ``I was thinking everybody is going to the two-back system, so whether he starts the game off or I start the game off, we'll both get the same amount of carries, give or take a few.''
That's the plan, at least. Coach John Fox's goal is to turn back the clock to 2003, when the Panthers reached the Super Bowl with physical running back Stephen Davis chewing up yards and the clock, and with the shifty, speedy Foster spelling him with big-play potential.
Davis set a franchise record with 1,444 yards rushing in 2003, while Foster's most memorable play in his six seasons in Carolina came that year when he broke four tackles on a 1-yard touchdown run in the NFC championship game.
``We may have been one of the first to have the tandem deal way back in '03,'' Fox said. ``It helps to have a change of pace guy. I think a lot of people are starting to do that now and we kind of want to follow suit ourselves.''
The Panthers hope the 5-foot-10, 233-pound Stewart will add a smash-mouth style that has been missing in consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs. But there has been no tackle-breaking for Stewart this weekend: his right foot is in a boot after toe surgery last month.
``I will get the mental aspect of the game and see it from the vets about how things are supposed to be done,'' said Stewart, who rushed for 1,722 yards and 11 touchdowns for Oregon last season. ``Then I will get my chance when my toe is ready.''
Williams is the smaller, speedy alternative. While he played behind Foster the past two years, Williams was far more productive in 2007. He averaged 5 yards per carry to Foster's 3 1/2. His longest run was 75 yards compared to Foster's 20. Williams scored four touchdowns to Foster's three.
Yet it might not be good enough to become the starter.
``They haven't said anything about it,'' Williams said. ``I guess it will come down to training camp.''
Fox was making no predictions Saturday. But Carolina has spent the offseason determined to return to a power running style. It's why they traded next year's first-round pick to move up and get mammoth offensive tackle Jeff Otah late in the first round. It's why they loaded up on big guards in the offseason.
``I've always believed in running the football and there are a lot of coaches that share that philosophy,'' Fox said. ``For whatever reasons we've struggled with that the last couple of years and we want to get back to it.''
Fox hopes to do it with two backs with different strengths. And the veteran Williams isn't complaining. He was seen joking around with Stewart after Friday's workout.
``It will be fun,'' Williams insisted. ``I'm not going to hold hard feelings toward anybody because that is not the way you play this game. It's we, not me.''
Notes: QB Jake Delhomme again threw in individual drills but sat out team work as he recovers from elbow surgery. His backup, Matt Moore, threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to a diving Steve Smith midway through the morning workout. ... With Jon Beason recovering from wrist surgery, Adam Seward worked with the first team at middle linebacker. ... DE Julius Peppers looked noticeably bigger in the upper body. ... DT Darwin Walker and G Rueben Riley missed the morning workout with sore backs.