Pitt's Perceived Weaknesses (Part II of IV): Ray Graham Return From Injury

Will Ray Graham run wild in 2012? (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Yesterday, we looked at Pitt's new defensive line. Today's 'weakness' for the Panthers in 2012 is Ray Graham's return from injury.

I understand the concern of Ray Graham's injury from last season. He didn't participate in the spring and there are going to be legitimate concerns until we see him in game action. But despite Graham shaking off some rust due to the injury, Pitt will be just fine at running back.

Many will point to the fact that Graham is a bit of a question mark, but I don't think that's really the case. He didn't participate this spring, but is fully expected to be ready for the fall. There will be rust, but Graham is also a senior. He knows the game and I'd expect his adjustment time when getting back into game shape will be shorter.

Beyond even that, though, Pitt fans know that there are other options at running back. Neither is probably as good as Graham for this season, but Rushel Shell and Isaac Bennett give good reasons to be optimistic about the running game.

Bennett played a bit last year, but really broke through this spring handling the load while Shell wasn't yet here and while Graham sat out. He dominated the spring, rushing for numerous big gains including four 50+ yard runs. Then there's Shell, who's only one of Pitt's biggest recruits in recent memory. The five-star running back was one of the best in all of high school football last year and while it's no guarantee he'll be a star right away, he is expected to contribute significantly next season.

Neither option is probably as good as a healthy Graham, but if he struggles, the duo should be able to keep Pitt's running game afloat.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt football and basketball.

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