The Carolina Panthers selected Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney in the sixth round of the 2014 draft in the hopes he could provide depth at a position left tenuous due to a series of injuries to Jonathan Stewart. Now that ideal will never be realized with news Gaffney will miss the season with a knee injury.
The injury occurred during the first practice of training camp in Spartanburg. Initially the rookie believed it was a minor tweak, but according to Panthers.com an MRI revealed a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, forcing Gaffney to miss the season.
Head coach Ron Rivera said the team is disappointed with the news, but will search for other options to back up DeAngelo Williams while Stewart continues to recover.
"We're a little bit thin, but we'll find somebody to come in and replace him and have another body come in to compete for a position on this football team," Rivera said. "It's disappointing because the young man is a solid football player that has a history of being a workhorse.
Gaffney's injury comes less than a weak after it was revealed offensive guard Edmund Kugbila would also miss 2014 after having back surgery. The team's offensive line and running back position were two potential weaknesses entering the offseason, with much of the Panthers' hopes leaning on young players developing and veterans recovering from injury.
The news is disappointing but not debilitating. Kenjon Barner remains on the roster and could provide help at the position, while there will be increased opportunities for undrafted free agent Darrin Reaves to make an impression on the coaching staff before the first round of cuts.