Carolina Panthers second-year running back Christian McCaffrey is ready to carry the load…
Before the Carolina Panthers made Christian McCaffrey their first-round selection in the NFL Draft over a year ago, scouts and critics questioned his ability to shoulder the workload of a professional season. While McCaffrey joined a backfield led by veteran Jonathan Stewart, he garnered plenty of touches throughout the season.
McCaffrey appeared in all 16 regular season games plus the playoffs, earning at minimum eight touches on two different occasions and getting 10 official starts. His contributions on offense were not only evident when the ball was in his hands but opposing defenses were forced to account for him on every play.
His efforts were impressive enough for the Panthers to part with Stewart this offseason and although they added C.J. Anderson and a few other guys who may compete for roster positions, expectations are that McCaffrey will be the feature back this year.
At Stanford, McCaffrey played in every game as a true freshman but only carried the football 42 times. The next year, as a sophomore, McCaffrey broke the NCAA record for all-purpose yards held by Barry Sanders with over 2,000 yards rushing and nearly 650 receiving yards.
More from Cat Crave
- Ranking the top-five QB prospects the Panthers could draft in 2023
- 4 remaining Carolina Panthers cap crunches after Damien Wilson release
- Could Duce Staley help Carolina Panthers land Jamaal Williams in 2023?
- How much could the Carolina Panthers afford to offer Lamar Jackson?
- 4 Panthers rumors to emerge from 2023 NFL Scouting Combine
While no one expects McCaffrey to have a similar rise in production from his rookie NFL season, a year of experience and full offseason should have a positive impact on his production. Remember, last year McCaffrey was limited in his availability early due to an NFL rule regarding graduation for draft picks.
Adding muscle over the offseason, McCaffrey has focused on being durable and hopefully breaking more tackles for longer runs. He turns just 22 this week, younger than some Panthers rookies this season, is still developing and could be poised for a big year.
In a new offensive scheme with Norv Turner, it is going to be interesting to see how his dynamic skill set is utilized. Coupled with quarterback Cam Newton and potential backfield combinations of Newton, McCaffrey and Anderson, opposing defenses will have their hands full.
Expect talk of McCaffrey carrying the load at the professional level to quietly subside as the 2018 season progresses.