There has been a great deal of speculation and criticism around the league regarding why the Panthers acquired yet another marquee running back since they're already stacked at the position. The answer as it turns out is a lot simpler than most have imagined.
Apparently, Rivera does not intend to utilize Tolbert as a running back, but he will be used as a fullback in the Panthers already potent offense.
This revelation ought to do a great deal to allay the fears of ardent Panther fans who were afraid that the Panthers might seek to break up Double Trouble, with the recent signing of Tolbert.
Rivera had some interesting comments regarding misconceptions some have of Tolbert and how he was ulitized in San Diego and his vision for the future.
More info after the jump...
In what has become his accustomed style, Rivera was unambiguous:
"Everybody keeps saying he's a tailback. But he's a fullback to us,"
This confirms that the Panthers listing Tolbert as a fullback was no slight of hand, rather an accurate reflection of how the Panthers will utilize Tolbert. It seems that acquiring Tolbert had everything to do with giving Cam and Chudzinski more weapons and making the offense more explosive.
Rivera explained that, "we saw how we had used him in San Diego. We just thought this is a guy we'd love to have. ... If you can put an athletic, play-making fullback there, I think it helps you."
Last year, Tolbert was a force to be reckoned with in the end zone, racking up 10 TDs (double trouble managed 12). It would seem that Tolbert is poised to bogart some of Cam and Double Trouble's touchdowns this year. Personally, I look forward to seeing Cam take fewer hits in the red zone, since that is where he took most of his nasty shots while running the ball. I feel the same way about Williams, since he is starting to creep up there in years.
So, sleep well Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams jersey owners. it looks like both are poised to remain Panthers for at least another year. It would seem that uur short yardage and red zone offense became a bit more dangerous, a lot more flexible, and all at a bargain price.
While roundly criticized throughout the league, I believe picking up Tolbert is widely misunderstood. The acquisition will be more fruitful than most expect due to Tolbert's flexibility in our offensive scheme and special teams contributions.
Playing with Cam on our high powered offense is surely tantalizing to some players. Is this the beginning of a procession of players willing to play for the Panthers at a discount? Only time will tell...