The final preseason game marks a last opportunity for many players, but none more so than Panthers’ running back, Brandon Wegher…
A year ago Brandon Wegher was the talk of the Panthers’ preseason. After signing as an undrafted free agent he worked his way onto the final 53-man roster with an impressive camp and preseason performance. In 29 carries, Wegher accumulated 110 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns.
The Panthers elected to keep five running backs on the initial roster last season, including Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert, Fozzy Whittaker, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Wegher. All have returned in 2016, but Wegher hasn’t produced the same break-out performance from a year ago. In the three preseason games to date, he has carried the ball 21 times for 41-yards and no touchdowns.
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Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers appears to be Wegher’s last opportunity for a push to maintain his position. With talented depth and injury concerns at other positions,
“I think (Thursday) will weigh pretty heavily on a lot of these guys. And he’s a good example.” -Ron Rivera
the Panthers do not seem likely to carry five running backs, unless Wegher can impress.
Knowing that he is facing an uphill climb, Wegher has seen the most opportunity on special teams. Versatility is key when coaches and general managers are finalizing a roster and his ability to contribute in multiple facets could save his job.
He hasn’t been given the same opportunity during 2016, but Wegher isn’t complaining and Coach Ron Rivera seems understanding. “You want to see if what he did last year is the same as he could do,” Rivera said. “And you do feel it because when he’s had opportunities he’s made things happen. I think (Thursday) will weigh pretty heavily on a lot of these guys. And he’s a good example. He’s a young man who really showed us last year and just hasn’t had the opportunities this year.”
The running back recently spoke about his approach to the competition. “I see myself competing against everybody on this roster and everybody on the 31 other teams,” Wegher said. “I’m out here putting up good film every day. I’ve had good practices. I’m trying to leave everything out here. Whatever shakes out, shakes out.”
Brandon Wegher’s final exam comes Thursday night and he’s ready.