Goings gets chance to shine

Perhaps all of the injuries at running back last season can now be considered a blessing in disguise for the Carolina Panthers. Otherwise, Nick Goings may never have had a chance to shine -- and the Panthers wouldn't know what to expect from their third-string running back when they head into Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Seattle Seahawks.

After injuries decimated Carolina's backfield in 2004, Goings stepped in and ran for five 100-yard games in the second half of the season.

On Sunday, with DeShaun Foster out for the season with a broken ankle, Goings and Jamal Robertson will be asked to carry the load against the Seahawks.

Stephen Davis, who started the season, was placed on injured reserve last month.

"Nick Goings proved last year he can run the football," said quarterback Jake Delhomme. "I think the offensive line is pretty excited about blocking for him. With Stephen Davis and DeShaun you have two different styles of backs. But DeShaun and Nick are pretty similar. They are patient and they set up their blocks."

Goings ran for 43 yards on 10 carries against the Chicago Bears after Foster left early in the third quarter.

"I'm ready," said the shy and reserved Goings. "This is what it's all about. This is a dream come true for me to get this opportunity. I'm going to continue to work hard and make the most of it."

Said guard Mike Wahle: "Luckily for us Nick Goings is heckuva back and he's been doing a great job for us. When DeShaun went out, Nick came in and ran the ball real well. We have all the confidence in the world in him. But obviously losing a guy like DeShaun is huge for us."

Foster had run for 316 yards in his previous two games with the Panthers.

Seattle's Shaun Alexander, the league's Most Valuable Player this season, will certainly overshadow Goings this Sunday.

But if there's one advantage he may have over other backs still in the playoffs is that he's a little fresher, having only carried the ball 37 times during the regular season.

Goings' best game came in the wild card playoffs when he ran 12 times for 63 yards in Carolina's 23-0 win over the New York Giants.

"Yeah I think that will help me," Goings said. "I didn't get too many carries this season, but I continued to work hard."

When asked if Foster's absence will alter the team's approach to Sunday's game, coach John Fox said, "I haven't really thought too much about Seattle yet, other than I know it is a long flight. We'll get into that on Monday."

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