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Carolina Panthers replace Tyler Gaffney with a guy named Fozzy

Tom Sorensen
Tom Sorensen has been a columnist at The Observer for 20 years and has been at the paper for 25, writing about nearly every sport in the Carolinas.
Panthers Rookie Camp Football
CHRIS KEANE - AP FILE PHOTO
Running back Tyler Gaffney

I liked Tyler Gaffney. True, I never saw him run an NFL play or talked to him. But aside from that, I liked him. I liked the idea of him.

The Carolina Panthers drafted Gaffney, a running back out of Stanford, in the sixth round of the 2014 draft. He was the kind of back who would run through a defender, a defense or a wooden house.

Gaffney blew out his left knee Friday on the first play of Fan Fest. The Panthers waived him, and on Monday New England claimed him. Gaffney tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee, an injury that ends a season. Either the Patriots don’t believe the injury is as serious as the Panthers do or they love the man’s potential.

With Jonathan Stewart injured, the Panthers felt they needed the roster spot for another back. They signed Fozzy Whittaker. So far Fozzy, 25, has been a mediocre back with a good name.

Tyler we hardly knew you. That’s not true. Tyler, we didn’t know you.

• Players I’ve enjoyed watching in Spartanburg: cornerback Antoine Cason, who has caught as many passes as some receivers; tight ends Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson and Brandon Williams; rookie guard Trai Turner; and rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin. Throwing the ball over Benjamin’s head is like throwing the ball too deep for Ted Ginn Jr.

Player most likely to get in a fight: Kony Ealy, the rookie defensive end out of Missouri. Question: Will Captain Munnerlyn fly back from Minnesota to join in? Miss you, Captain.

• I say this every July, but if you like football, if you want to feel invested in this team, you ought to come to Spartanburg. It’s almost like watching a Class AAA baseball team. By the end of the practice, you’ll find a player you like. When he breaks big, you can say you saw him first.

My guys always get cut. But I like to think that says more about the Panthers than it does me.

Sorensen: 704-358-5119; tsorensen@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @tomsorensen
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