Before the Carolina Panthers
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*Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com
Artis-Payne played limited snaps during his junior year but made a name for himself in the final season at Auburn when he carried the ball over 300 times and ran for over 1,600 rushing yards, finishing first in the SEC in both categories. He also finished third in the SEC in rushing touchdowns.
What the Analysts Said
Doesn't have much tread off the tires since arriving to Auburn from junior college. Has proven that he can hit the turbo button and get through creases, but lacks special traits and ability to max out carries. Artis-Payne is a tough runner but I question if he has enough athleticism to be anything more than a grinder and average backup.
-Lance Zierlein, NFL.com
His best trait is his vision to find daylight while running without hesitation, not giving defenders a chance to react and maneuvering through traffic like a crazed Manhattan cabby. Artis-Payne is an older prospect, but still has plenty of tread on his tires with only a dozen starts at the FBS level. Although he's probably not a feature back at the next level, Artis-Payne has the lateral burst and toughness to be a reliable reliever in a NFL backfield who can start if needed.
-Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
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Entering the 2015 season, Artis-Payne was expected to have a bigger role in this offense and be the primary backup to Jonathan Stewart. However, the coaching staff leaned heavily on Stewart and there wasn't many carries out of the backfield left for the rest of the position.
He did get a chance to be the featured back at the end of the season though when Stewart was out with an injury. In the final three games of the regular season, Artis-Payne carried the ball 33 times for 152 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. The one thing that was a surprise was the explosiveness he showed from the position with two runs over 25 yards during that stretch.
The coaching staff would probably like to keep the same gameplan they did last year in terms of dividing up carries. There is no question Stewart is the best running back in this backfield but he is a year older and has a history of injuries.
This will be a great opportunity for Artis-Payne to step up and have a more prominent role in this offense in 2016. He is a big bodied running back that can wear defenses down and has shown he can handle a heavy workload carrying the ball. The challenge for the coaching staff will be to figure out a way to work Artis-Payne into the flow of the game, without disrupting the rhythm of Stewart.