|Goodson has been a bright spot so far in the second half of the season|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Thursday, 25 November 2010 23:17|
CHARLOTTE -- There were always hints that Mike Goodson could do the job.|
He showed flashes in training camp. He flashed in the preseason too, as well in his rare opportunities to play on third down the past two years.
So Goodson’s recent success doesn’t come as much of a surprise to the Panthers, even if the results have been overwhelmingly pleasant.
They always knew he had talent, but Goodson has been trapped behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart — and, in 2009, Tyrell Sutton — on the depth chart, limiting the impact the 2009 fourth-round draft pick from Texas A&M could have on the team.
But in his first two starts against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, Goodson has been able to do something neither Williams nor Stewart could in the first half of the season – run for 100 yards in a game.
Goodson has eclipsed the century mark in both games, finishing with 151 yards from scrimmage in Carolina’s 37-13 loss to Baltimore with Williams, Stewart and Sutton all sidelined with injuries.
He’s expected to start Sunday against Cleveland, although he could see his reps limited with Stewart returning from a concussion.
Given Goodson’s success, it will be tough to take him out of the starting lineup even when Stewart returns and is cleared to play. Stewart has missed the last two games after taking a huge shot from Saints safety Darren Sharper on Nov. 7.
Coach John Fox said it would have been “hard to imagine” Goodson having this type of production in back-to-back games a year ago as a rookie.
“Mike worked very hard this offseason both to increase his size and strength and obviously has a better understanding of our run game as well as our pass protections,” Fox said. “The guy enjoys playing, which I deeply respect. He’s gotten an opportunity that he’s taken full advantage of, and I really like to see that.”
Goodson feels like just having another season under his belt is what is paying off.
“Experience,” Goodson said of his reason for success. “The thing is the first time you don’t know what to expect so you don’t know how to prepare for it. When you’ve seen it before it’s a lot easier.”
Fox also feels like the offensive line is doing a better job blocking the past two weeks.
“Like most run games and historically with ours, it takes a little time to develop,” Fox said. “We had some new moving parts with a new fullback.
“Our tight ends have basically been the same, but three-fifths of our offensive line is different. Like everything else, it’s kind of like the more you do with the same guys, the better you get, and it’s always taken a little time to evolve.”
The big question now becomes what to do at running back this coming offseason.
Williams’ contract is up and he could leave via free agency.
What’s unclear is whether or not the Panthers will let him walk or pony up for a long-term contract worth about $7 million per season, the going rate for top tier NFL running backs.
With Stewart and Goodson both under contract, it’s unclear if the Panthers are fine with the cheaper alternatives or if they will invest in Williams.
Goodson’s play over the next six weeks of the season could have some bearing on that.
“Hopefully I’m surprising some people,” Goodson said. “But being with these guys — Stew and D-Will — they are competitors. You kind of sit back and wait for your chance to show those guys that I can go, too. So, it’s fun to mix it up. The camera is on and you have to try to produce because you never know who is watching you.”
NOTES: QB Jimmy Clausen (concussion) practiced for a second straight day Thursday, but coach John Fox remained non-committal about his status for Sunday. That said, as long as Clausen doesn’t have any setbacks he will start against Cleveland.
If Clausen can’t go, the Panthers aren’t sure what they will do.
Brian St. Pierre remains limited and that means Fox would have to choose from between Tony Pike and newcomer Keith Null, who is on the practice squad. Pike looks like the better alternative there.
In other injury news, RB Tyrell Sutton (ankle), G Travelle Wharton (toe), CB Captain Munnerlyn (shoulder), DB Marcus Hudson (ankle) and S Jordan Pugh (hamstring) did not practice. CB Chris Gamble was back to work after missing Wednesday’s practice for personal reasons.