3 big observations from Christian McCaffrey’s performance vs. the Patriots

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /
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Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

What were some big observations to take from Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey’s performance against the New England Patriots?

After five games out with a hamstring injury, Christian McCaffrey made his long-awaited return to the lineup in Week 9 game against the New England Patriots. The Carolina Panthers have sorely missed the All-Pro running back and were 1-4 without him in 2021, so seeing him suit up was a massive morale boost for everyone associated with the organization.

Whether McCaffrey pushed himself too soon after suffering a complication at the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football is anybody’s guess. It’s also evident that the Panthers are far too reliant on the former first-round pick judging by the team’s tepid efforts on offense in recent weeks.

If the Panthers want to maximize McCaffrey’s production throughout the duration of his deal, then things have to change. Something Matt Rhule admitted this week even if offensive coordinator Joe Brady claimed it wasn’t going to alter his mindset regarding the player’s usage.

With this in mind, here are some big observations from McCaffrey’s performance in Week 9.

Observation No. 1

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

Christian McCaffrey was in supreme physical condition

This perhaps came as no surprise, but Christian McCaffrey looked to be in supreme physical shape upon taking the field in Week 9. The Stanford product came through another week of practice and a pre-game workout unscathed, with the excitement at Bank of America Stadium noticeable when he was formally introduced.

McCaffrey’s conditioning is never in question. It’s keeping him fit that’s been the biggest problem for the Carolina Panthers over the last two seasons.

Hopefully, things can now start trending in the right direction. But from a physical standpoint, McCaffrey looked as advertised.