The Panthers are looking to make the most of Christian McCaffrey.
The 23-year-old running back was one of the NFL’s most productive offensive players last season. But the Panthers are worried about the young star’s workload, according to the team’s offensive coordinator, Norv Turner.
“I think there’s four or five guys who had more touches (in 2018). I’m concerned about Christian’s touches, and he had about 320 (last year),” Turner told reporters Monday. “The carries take more out of you than the completions. He had about 210 carries. I’ve had six different guys who’ve had over 400 touches, so he’s not even close to some of the guys I’ve been with.”
Turner is fresh off his first year with Carolina, as he was hired in January 2018. He previously spent time with the Redskins, Chargers, Dolphins, Raiders, 49ers, Chargers, Browns and Vikings. He’s seen his fair share of talent and thinks the Panthers could be more strategic with McCaffrey’s usage moving forward.
“Now he was on the field 90 percent of the time. That’s documented. A lot of the time he’s running swings, he’s getting out of the way, whatever. We need to get someone else on the field, but we’re not gonna minimize his carries or touches,” Turner said.
McCaffrey rushed for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns on 219 attempts in 2018. He also caught 107 passes for 867 yards and reached the end zone six times through the air. The 1,965 scrimmage yards in his second NFL season trailed only the Giants’ Saquon Barkley (2,028) and the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott (2,001).
Despite McCaffrey’s breakout year, Carolina finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Quarterback Cam Newton’s nagging shoulder injury played a large part in the team’s offensive limitations, but the former MVP underwent surgery in January to address his discomfort.
If Newton can return to All-Pro form, the Panthers might not have to lean on McCaffrey as much.
Jordan Scarlett, Cameron Artis-Payne and Alex Armah will be among the running backs competing for bigger roles in 2019.