McCaffrey rushed eight times for 10 yards, brought in four of five targets for 34 yards and totaled 30 yards on five punt returns in Sunday's 9-3 win over the Bills.
The electrifying rookie posted double-digit gains in the passing game (14 yards) and on special teams (11 yards), but he was completely bottled up on the ground by a tough Bills front seven. The speed of NFL defenses have helped largely neutralize McCaffrey over the first two regular-season games of his NFL career, as he's averaged just 2.7 yards per rush and a modest 8.0 yards per his nine receptions. Nevertheless, his upside is undeniable, and he'll look to break out against the beatable Saints defense in Week 3.
McCaffrey played 47 of 67 offensive snaps in Sunday's 23-3 win over the 49ers, taking 13 carries for 47 yards and catching five passes for 38 yards on a team-high seven targets.
McCaffrey lost a fumble in the fourth quarter and didn't have any big plays or touchdowns, but Sunday's usage was still highly encouraging for his prospects the rest of the season. Consider that power back Jonathan Stewart logged 18 fewer snaps even though the Panthers were ahead by at least 20 points for the final 26 minutes of the game. Stewart had a 7-3 advantage in carries on the meaningless final drive, but McCaffrey held a 15-13 edge in touches prior to that series. The usage suggests McCaffrey's workload could dwarf Stewart's if the Panthers eventually find themselves playing from behind. Of course, a Week 2 home matchup with the Bills should allow both running backs to stay heavily involved. It's also worth noting that Carolina had McCaffrey and Stewart on the field together for at least a handful of plays.
Though his numbers aren't eye-popping, McCaffrey easily looked like the Panthers' most impressive weapon Sunday, not to mention QB Cam Newton's favorite target in the passing game -- as his team-high seven targets indicate. Likely the rookie's most impressive play came on 3rd-and-15 when he lined up on Newton's hip and took a swing pass 16 yards for the first down, all while displaying the trademark elusiveness we've come to expect from the Stanford product. Expect McCaffrey to remain heavily involved next week brings in the Panthers' home opener against the Bills.
In addition to familiarizing himself with the Panthers' standard offensive playbook during the preseason, McCaffrey has had to learn a separate package of plays tailored specifically for him, Dianna Russini of ESPN reports.
If McCaffrey's extensive usage with the Panthers' first-team offense during the preseason didn't provide enough of an indication that the team envisions him filling a major role as a rookie, Russini's report offers further support to that notion. It's unclear how often the supplementary playbook will come into play during the regular season, but regardless of what schemes Carolina implements, it sounds as though the team will make a concerted effort to get the ball in McCaffrey's hands in the open field. That could translate to some hefty yardage totals as either a runner or receiver in certain contests, but McCaffrey may ultimately yield much of the goal-line work to Jonathan Stewart or Cam Newton, whose bulkier frames are better suited for short-yardage conversions.
McCaffrey gained 21 yards on seven carries and 12 yards on one reception in Thursday's preseason game against Jacksonville.
While not as efficient as he was the past two weeks, McCaffrey encouragingly split work with Jonathan Stewart on the opening drive, finishing with five touches to the veteran's four during that series. The only disappointment was Carolina's failure to use the two backs on the field at the same time, with Russell Shepard appearing to get all of the first-team snaps at slot receiver. Even if packages involving both backs are very limited, the Panthers clearly are intent on keeping both McCaffrey and Stewart heavily involved in the offense. Stewart gained 39 yards on five carries, thanks to a 31-yard gain on a toss play on the first snap of the game
|4||10/1/17||@ NE||1:00 pm|
|5||10/8/17||@ DET||1:00 pm|
|7||10/22/17||@ CHI||1:00 pm|
|8||10/29/17||@ TB||1:00 pm|
|Bye: Week 11|
|12||11/26/17||@ NYJ||1:00 pm|
|13||12/3/17||@ NO||1:00 pm|
|17||12/31/17||@ ATL||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|