During the past two seasons, Christian McCaffrey has been poked, prodded, and had more needles and scalpels in him than a pin cushion and a game of operation respectfully.
He’s missed 23 out of 33 games and has been trying to get healthy, stay healthy and return to his previous All-Pro caliber form ever since. For two years, McCaffrey has been attacking rehab instead of attacking front 7’s and that is something that he hopes to change this season.
With that said, the Panthers will give McCaffrey a better chance to do so by not playing him in the preseason, but what else could they do to keep him healthy and productive for the first time in two years? One way to approach it is to have CMC be a possession back until he progresses. Remember, he’s been rehabbing for two years so expecting him to just pick up where he left off in production isn’t realistic. For instance, CMC can play in the slot some which will give the Panthers more options in the passing game. Carolina will use Chuba Hubbard and D’Onta Freeman to share the reps at running back which will allow CMC to line up in different places on the field.
McCaffery has a lot to prove this season – to people in the league, critics who think he’s done, and most importantly to himself. When many think about rehab, they think of the physical toll. They don’t think of how draining it can be mentally. Christian has played in just ten games the last two seasons. The Panthers want to prove they can turn that around. In order for that to happen, CMC has to be on the field and this approach might be the one that keeps him there.