5 key observations from Panthers first practice back in Charlotte

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers playing it safe with Christian McCaffrey

Anyone hoping to see Christian McCaffrey on the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers might be disappointed. Matt Rhule stated following Monday’s practice that the running back’s reps would be extremely limited, even if he plays at all in the preseason finale.

This is the right call to make.

There is absolutely no reason to put McCaffrey in harm’s way. Even if the All-Pro has been away from the game for a long time.

McCaffrey is a Rolls Royce. Someone that is feared across the league and can reach heights in terms of dual-threat production most simply can’t.

The former Stanford sensation is probably keen to get back out there and showcase what he can do. But although McCaffrey will be disappointed, keeping the bigger picture in mind is absolutely crucial for the Carolina Panthers and their chances of real progress in 2021.

Had McCaffrey been on the field for all 16 games last season, perhaps some departures this offseason may have been given a reprieve.

That’s how special he is.

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McCaffrey has been sorely missed. So the last thing Carolina needs is for their face of the franchise to take unnecessary punishment against a Pittsburgh front seven that remains loaded with dangerous men.