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C.J. Anderson bets on himself to make run with 1-year Panthers deal
RB topped 1,000 yards with Broncos in 2017
Published Saturday, May 26, 2018 1:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Running back C.J. Anderson, who rushed for 1,007 yards with Denver last year, is looking for similar success with the Panthers in 2018.

C.J. Anderson trains heavy to play light.

The Carolina Panthers running back asked for a one-year contract, which he signed on May 7 after Denver cut him to create salary cap space. He’s playing with a point to prove, despite two AFC championships and a Super Bowl ring, which he earned against the Panthers in Super Bowl 50—a performance where he rushed for 90 yards and scored one touchdown.  

“I’ve been on myself since I’ve been in,” Anderson said. “This hasn’t changed. Coming in, new team, new environment, you’ve got to earn the respect of your teammates, which is just knowing the playbook, coming in, working hard and keeping your mouth shut. I’m betting on myself every day. Since I’ve been in the league, being undrafted, this is nothing different. I’ve been here before.”

Quarterback Cam Newton led Carolina with 754 yards rushing last season as the Panthers ranked fourth in the NFL with an average 131.4 yards per game. In comparison, Anderson rushed for a career-high 1,007 yards last season with Denver, but he insists that’s only the beginning of what he is capable of.

“I’m in my prime,” Anderson said. “I have the opportunity to do something really special here. I asked for the one-year deal. I want to prove myself—that I can still play this game at a high level. The 1,000 yards was just the start at 27 years old, and we’ll just go from there.”

Said Carolina coach Ron Rivera: “It’s good to have someone who does have some background and some success in this league. It’ll be good for Christian [McCaffrey]. It’ll be good for [Cameron Artis-Payne] and the rest of the young guys, because you do see some of those veteran qualities come out. It’s been good watching him interact with those young guys.”

Anderson prides himself on his football IQ and knowing his assignment, which works to the advantage of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

“Norv offers a mind that is tremendous,” Anderson said. “His philosophy and what he’s trying to do, he’s just trying to get his playmakers the ball in space, utilizing our abilities to the best. I’m excited that he understands my game, knows my game, and is going to put me in a position to win.”

Anderson, who trains with layers of apparel, is sticking with his regimen during Charlotte’s humid spring. But with preseason training camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is known for its heat, Anderson insists he will remain in form despite his teammates insisting that he’ll lose the hoodie and sweats once they’re on the Wofford campus.

“That’s what they say,” he said. “I’m going to be like this, whether it’s 105 degrees or minus-3. This is how I’m going to be. I’m not going to change what I do, and how I do it.”

Said Rivera: “A lot of the young guys really don’t know what to expect, and they’re kind of feeling their way around through this right now. A veteran guy though, he’ll know what to expect to a certain degree, but it’s a different environment. They’ll all get a good sense based on what we do in OTAs and minicamp over the next couple weeks.”

Newton and Anderson were friends prior to his arrival in Carolina. Their high school 7-on-7 teams faced each other a few months ago, when Newton’s team won. They face each other again in Atlanta on May 28. For Anderson, it’s a matter of passing down what previous generations did for him.

“He got me by six [points],” Anderson said. “Hopefully we get a win this Monday. Our game is based on the Marshall Faulks, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith who put us in the position today. What I learned from the older guys who are not in the league anymore, I’m just passing it down.”


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