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May 04, 2006

Shelton in the spotlight at mini-camp

Forget that Keyshawn Johnson and DeAngelo Williams will be making his their first appearance in Panthers uniforms when mini-camp opens Friday.

The player I’m most interested to see is running back Eric Shelton.

Shelton, a second-year pro out of Louisville, has a lot to prove and, depending on what he does in the next few months, he could end up being anywhere from having a productive role in the running game to a spot on the waiver wire.

Shelton was a huge disappointment in training camp after the Panthers used a second-round pick on him last year. He seemed to have trouble grasping the offense and had problems picking up blitzes. There was no way the coaching staff was going to give him any playing time if he couldn’t protect the quarterback. But Shelton suffered a foot injury late in the preseason and was placed on the injured reserve list.

The injury might not have been enough to keep Shelton out all season, but the coaches decided it was the best thing to do for a rookie who wasn’t ready to play.

Now, Shelton has had a year to watch and absorb the offense. He also wasn’t happy about sitting down last year and might use the experience as motivation.

Shelton needs motivation. He has got DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams ahead of him on the depth chart. Kick returner Jamal Robertson also can contribute as a running back. Although Nick Goings was more of a backup fullback last year, he has demonstrated he can be a dependable running back and the team wants to take a long look at Casey Cramer as a possible backup for fullback Brad Hoover.

That puts Shelton on the hot seat. If he can step, he could have a valuable role as a short-yardage and goal-line runner. If not, he might not make the roster.

Posted by Observer Sports on May 4, 2006 at 10:51 PM | Permalink

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