This preseason hasn’t been nearly as kind to Carolina Panthers running back Brandon Wegher as last year’s.
In the 2015 preseason, Wegher went off for 110 rushing yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Through three exhibitions this year, Wegher has 21 carries for 41 yards and no scores.
He has mostly played with the third-string offense and hasn’t had a great deal of room to run through the first three games.
“I just haven’t really had the opportunities that I really think I deserve,” Wegher said. “It is what it is. I’m not complaining. I’m just trying to be a team player.”
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His coach agrees, though. Ron Rivera knows that Wegher, a former undrafted player out of Morningside College, hasn’t gotten the same chances that he did last preseason.
“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.”
Wegher spent all of last season on the 53-man roster, making the cut after the Panthers were afraid another team would scoop him off their practice squad. He was inactive for every game until the regular-season finale, where he did not record any statistics.
Wegher said he learned last year that nothing is given to you; you have to earn everything.
This preseason he’s been behind starter Jonathan Stewart and backups Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whittaker on the depth chart. Because of that, he’s also trying to make his mark on special teams.
But Wegher doesn’t see his primary competition as Whittaker or undrafted rookie running back Jalen Simmons.
“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.”
His last chance to make a statement comes Thursday against Pittsburgh. A strong showing will increase his chances of making the final cut on Saturday.
“I want to see him get that opportunity behind the ones and twos and against their good twos,” Rivera said. “I think it’ll be a good battle for the kid. And if he does what I expect, we have tough decisions.”