5 big Carolina Panthers storylines to watch during 2021 season

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Can Christian McCaffrey stay healthy and will he be limited?

In the first of a record four-year deal last season, running back Christian McCaffrey managed to play in just three games due to a handful of injuries.

In McCaffrey’s defense, he hadn’t missed a game since entering the league in 2017, and his injuries weren’t any soft tissue ones, but with the wear-and-tear that he’s already put on his body in just a few years, there can be some cause for concern of how his body holds up.

The last time McCaffrey was healthy in 2019, he played in almost 90 percent of all Carolina’s offensive snaps. Last season, that number didn’t seem to waver in the three games he appeared in.

McCaffrey was very limited in training camp and didn’t appear in a preseason game, meaning he’ll be ready to go but will his playing time be limited? That remains to be seen, but if it does happen, rookie running back Chuba Hubbard and veteran Royce Freeman will be the guys he is spelled by.

The thing with McCaffrey is he doesn’t just have to be used in the ground game considering how versatile he is. He can also be used as a receiving threat, hence his 1,000-1,000 yard season the last time we saw him as full health.

Carolina is pretty solid at wide receiver but there might be times we see McCaffrey lined up as a receiver and Hubbard in the game for a down on the ground.

With the Panthers paying McCaffrey like a superstar, as he should be, this year will be pivotal due to the first year of the deal already going to waste.