The Facts: Sanders had his best year as a professional in 2022, leading the team in rushing yards with 1,269 and scoring 11 touchdowns. Then, in Super Bowl LVII, Sanders disappeared to the tune of 16 rushing yards on seven carries -- both season lows. When asked at Panthers organized team activities this week if he was upset by his usage in the Eagles' final loss of the season, Sanders did not mince words. "Last game of the season? For all of the marbles? Everybody can answer that question," he said, via the Associated Press. "If they put themselves in my shoes, would they be happy? I don't want to make headlines, (but) if it does, I don't care."
Diehards Line:But with the game in the rearview and a season with a new team on the horizon, Sanders has a chance to ditch that sour memory given all the Panthers will likely ask him to do. Sanders signed a four-year deal with Carolina in March, and although Chuba Hubbard will also garner carries, he is likely to be the workhorse after being lured to the Panthers by his former RBs coach Duce Staley. The team opted to forgo the running back position in the 2023 draft, and 288 carries from last year are up for grabs after the departures of D’Onta Foreman and Christian McCaffrey. Beyond playing a major role in eating up those attempts, Sanders could also see the most work he's had in the passing game since his rookie year. After catching 50 passes for 509 yards and three TDs in 2019, Sanders saw himself largely phased out in that department. He never broke 30 receptions in any of his next three seasons, and his only scores came on the ground. Head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown will likely lean on the running game to smooth QB Bryce Young's transition to the NFL. When the No. 1 overall pick does take to the air, his best friend under pressure could be a checkdown to Sanders.