Panthers coach explains team’s plan to keep Christian McCaffrey fresh
Christian McCaffrey had well over 300 touches in his second NFL season last year, and he is expected to see similar usage in 2019. That has led to some concern about him potentially suffering an injury or wearing down, but Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera says the team has a plan in place to prevent that from happening.
Rivera told reporters at training camp this week that the Panthers want to cut down on the amount of snaps McCaffrey plays without taking the ball out of his hands.
“The goal is to cut down on his plays, but we’re not going to take away his touches,” Rivera said, via Brendan Marks of The Charlotte Observer. “We want the ball in Christian’s hands. When he’s on the field, there’s no reason for him to be a decoy or be a swing guy.”
The concern with that approach is it might make Carolina’s offense more predictable, as defenses would know there’s a good chance the ball is going to McCaffrey when he’s on the field. That doesn’t mean they’ll be able to stop it, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner doesn’t seem concerned about opponents being aware of the approach.
“(Turner) basically said that the other day when he talked to you guys: We don’t want to take away the touches,” Rivera added. “What we want to do is take away the excess plays that he doesn’t have to be out there.”
Remember, Turner was the head coach of the San Diego Chargers in 2007 when LaDanian Tomlinson had 375 touches. He’s not afraid to ride his most dynamic player, and we know there are some injury concerns with Cam Newton. The Panthers would rather have McCaffrey take the hits, especially when he averaged 5.0 yards per rush and 8.1 yards per reception a year ago.