Inside the Panthers

Panthers RB Cameron Artis-Payne improves pass protection in Year 2

Carolina Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (34) has improved his pass blocking heading into his second season, and he credits that to experience.
Carolina Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne (34) has improved his pass blocking heading into his second season, and he credits that to experience. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers running back Cameron Artis-Payne credits being in the league for a year as the main reason why he’s improved his pass protection.

Artis-Payne, a former fifth-round pick out of Auburn, has improved dramatically in pass protection from last year to now. With Carolina’s varied offense, it’s imperative that the running back can protect the quarterback on some passing plays.

He’s using his weight to anchor his body, and he’s using what he’s learned to know what’s ahead.

“Just understanding what’s coming next,” Artis-Payne said. “Just reading the defense pre-snap and understanding how the linebackers are going to attack you or how the safety is coming off the edge to attack you. It’s just knowing little things in the second year.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Carolina’s No. 2 running back is really a mixture of fullback Mike Tolbert and running back Fozzy Whittaker. But Artis-Payne is the truer every-down running back among those three.

Artis-Payne appeared in seven games and had 45 rushes for 183 yards last season. He rushed three times for 7 yards in the playoff game against Seattle but didn’t see the field after that.

On his first carry of the game, Artis-Payne fumbled, but the Panthers recovered it and went on to score.

“I had kind of forgotten about it ’til you just brought it up,” Artis-Payne said. “Stuff happens. People fumble all the time. At the end of the day we recovered it, we won the game.”

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