One preseason game and a stretch of training camp have been enough for Christian McCaffrey to make an impression on Carolina fans.
The Panthers running back and Stanford product picked up 33 yards in his NFL preseason debut Wednesday and received praise aplenty online for juking Luke Kuechly during practice — twice (more on that later).
McCaffrey “shows promise,” the Charlotte Observer noted. He left Panther fans “wanting a whole lot more,” according to Sporting News.
There is even an MMQB piece that opens with McCaffrey leaving “the best linebacker in the game” — Kuechly, a four-time Pro Bowler and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year — “stretched out like a starfish.” Sports Illustrated termed McCaffrey a “YouTube Star” as if to predict forthcoming NFL highlights.
McCaffrey’s most impressive play from the Panthers’ win over the Texans this week was a 12-yard rush that he nearly took to the house…
Here’s that 12 yard Christian McCaffrey run again pic.twitter.com/FZI5jlUWu4
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 9, 2017
Tight end Greg Olsen complimented McCaffrey after the preseason game.
“He got his feet wet, kind of got used to the action,” Olsen said, per the Observer. “He’s going to do a lot for us.”
Despite not catching a pass, which many expect him to do during the season, McCaffrey made his case for the backup gig behind Jonathan Stewart (who had two carries for two yards, clearly and understandably limited in the first preseason game). The rookie’s seven carries were second only to Jalen Simmons’ nine, and McCaffrey had a slightly better average (4.7 to 4.2).
“It felt great,” McCaffrey said, per the Observer. “You get so lost in the grind sometimes you forget that football is the best thing in the world. As soon as that first play kind of happened … It was a lot of fun. …
“I had a blast out there. … You’ve been away from playing for so long. It’s always extremely exciting.”
McCaffrey drew even more attention for how he handled Kuechly in practice.
Christian McCaffrey is difficult to tackle…
just ask Luke Kuechly
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 2, 2017
“One-on-ones man, he doesn’t get enough credit,” McCaffrey told Jones after practice that day. “A one-on-one drill, the running back should win 100 percent of the time. That’s a tough drill for a linebacker when you have the entire field to roll with.”
McCaffrey showed an understanding for Kuechly. Panthers fans will better understand McCaffrey soon.
Stanford fans may be afforded the opportunity to see McCaffrey’s NFL debut Sept. 10 at Levi’s Stadium — quite a boon for those who saw him rack up 5,128 yards and 31 touchdowns with the Cardinal.
“I personally think he’s going to have a fantastic year,” former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said, per the Observer. “He’s going to be one of the guys up for rookie of the year.”
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