Do what got you here.
That’s the advice Carolina Panthers rookie running back Cameron Artis-Payne abides by during his first training camp.
Artis-Payne, a 25-year-old rookie, isn’t the kind of running back that blows you away with his speed. Instead he’s a patient back who waits for his blockers to set up in front of him before finding the right hole and taking off.
It’s what he did at Auburn when he led the SEC in rushing yards last season, and it’s what he’s doing in Spartanburg as he tries to move up the depth chart.
“You can’t really be overanxious,” Artis-Payne said Thursday. “That’s when you make a lot of your mistakes. You’ve got to be level headed and cool and be ready.
“Those (linemen) are great at their job and they’re great at what they do. So the patient thing gives them time to work and time to open up the holes. You don’t want to get there too quick. It doesn’t give those guys enough time to get to the second level and do their job so it’s a balance.”
Artis-Payne has shown that patience several times in the first week of camp. He sits behind Jonathan Stewart and Fozzy Whittaker on the depth chart while competing with Jordan Todman for the No. 3 running back position. Already veterans are seeing his talent.
“He’s incredibly patient as a running back, and you don’t see that a lot,” fullback Mike Tolbert said. “Special guys have that skillset. He’s patient, he knows when to hit the hole and when to make the right reads.”
Last year Artis-Payne led the Auburn Tigers and the SEC with 1,608 yards rushing. The Panthers selected him in the fifth round of May’s draft, and his style of running meshed well with what the Panthers do offensively.
But every Carolina running back has to be able to pass protect, and that’s something Artis-Payne prides himself on.
“That’s the easy part,” Artis-Payne said. “One of my friends that was already in the NFL said pass blocking will keep you in the league. Ever since I heard that maybe five, six, seven years ago, that’s just something I knew I had to do. I think I’m pretty good at that.”
Like most of the running backs, Artis-Payne has a nickname. A Dairy Queen employee said he looked like rapper Soulja Boy and the nickname stuck, though he hates the moniker.
Typically called “Cap” by his friends, Artis-Payne hoped to go by “Cam” in the locker room. He was denied that nickname at Auburn, where Panthers quarterback Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy, and thought it would catch on in Carolina’s locker room.
“Yeah, I tried it but it didn’t work,” Artis-Payne said quickly. “Didn’t work.”