Christian McCaffrey will make his NFL preseason debut
on Wednesday, and if training camp has been any indication, he won’t disappoint.
McCaffrey was taken eighth overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2017 draft and was assumed to play a big role right away.
The explosive 5-foot-11 running back from Stanford is not only a good runner, but a crafty slot receiver, and shifty out of the backfield. It seems as if all of his skills have been on display at Panthers training camp, and the NFL world is ready to watch him.
One anecdote highlights McCaffrey’s potential on the field. During a scrimmage, Panthers linebacker Jeremy Cash went low on McCaffrey and was kicked out of practice by an “irate” Ron Rivera. However, Cash later revealed to Rivera that he didn’t intend to go low on McCaffrey. According to Rivera, Cash said McCaffrey juked him so badly that he fell into McCaffrey’s legs.
“I have never had a player tell me: ‘Hey, Coach, he shook me so bad that I fell into him,'” Rivera told the Charlotte Observer. “He told me that and I almost laughed. But I appreciated the brutal honesty … Normally, players don’t want you to know they got shook.”
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington relayed the story on “NFL Live,” and said, “The hype train is rolling,” adding that McCaffrey “has been lighting it up. I was out there last week. I was impressed.”
Linebacker Luke Kuechly got a taste of McCaffrey’s shiftiness in training camp:
As did Shaq Thompson:
According to Jourdan Rodrigue and Joseph Peterson of the Charlotte Observer, McCaffrey made fans “explode” in a scrimmage when he juked cornerback Daryl Worley and linebacker Thomas Davis and made the two collide.
Veteran running back Jonathan Stewart told reporters during camp: “He’s pretty unstoppable as far as coming out of the backfield running routes. I can tell you now there’s not going to be anybody in this league that can cover him 1-on-1.”
Tight end Greg Olsen said: “Obviously he’s a dynamic kid with the ball in his hands … He has a special make-up to him. He has a special composure that nothing’s too big, none of this is a surprise to him.”
Added Davis: “The McCaffrey hype is most certainly legit. The kid is a special talent, man, and I’m definitely happy we’ve got him on our team
ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that Rivera went on for several minutes gushing about McCaffrey’s ability to read defensive packages.
It’s not just Panthers players, that are excited about McCaffrey. Hall of Fame running back Ladainian Tomlinson told Dan Patrick that McCaffrey reminds him of Marshall Faulk — a Hall of Fame running back — for his versatility.
McCaffrey isn’t expected to play a ton in preseason, and he likely won’t return punts the Panthers try to protect him from injury. However, with the regular season just a month away, it sounds like the hype around McCaffrey will only keep growing. Soon enough, we’ll see him and his explosiveness in real action.
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