Panthers to start Cameron Artis-Payne at RB against Vikings

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers plan to start second-year running back Cameron Artis-Payne on Sunday against Minnesota with Pro Bowler Jonathan Stewart out because of a hamstring injury.

Artis-Payne was inactive for the first two games, but the Panthers consider him more of an every-down back than Fozzy Whittaker, who rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries after Stewart was injured last week against San Francisco.

"For the most part, who we are is not built around one guy," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Friday. "Jonathan does bring a little something different to the game. There is physicality to the way he plays and runs the ball.

"But Cameron does a nice job. He's a physical style runner. He's not quite Jonathan, but you've got a good mix of guys."

Artis-Payne got 60 percent of the running back carries last season when Stewart missed the final three regular-season games with a knee injury. He had 33 carries for 152 yards and one touchdown in those games.

Fullback-running back Mike Tolbert was second with 17 carries, and Whittaker had seven.

Quarterback Cam Newton actually led the team in rushing during those games with 156 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.

"We feel really comfortable with the guys we have," Rivera said.

Artis-Payne feels comfortable despite sitting the first two games.

"My confidence is through the roof," he said earlier in the week. "I don't really worry about proving to people. Everybody here knows I can play. So that's not the big issue."
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