Rivera's comments occurred at the combine, a sign the Panthers are taking an interest in finding a suitable (and cheap) option to supplement the backfield. He added that McCaffrey necessarily won't experience a reduction in touches, but he'll defer some snaps to another running back to get the occasional breather. Week 17 aside, McCaffrey played at least 90 percent of the team's offensive snaps in 14 games last season, including all of them eight times, en route to the third-most touches (326) in the league. The 22-year-old will be well-served in the long term if Carolina brings in some relief this offseason.
McCaffrey ran for 18 yards on four carries and added a 22-yard catch during Sunday's 33-14 win over the Saints.
With the playoffs out of reach, McCaffrey rested for most of Sunday as Cameron Artis-Payne and Travaris Cadet did most of the heavy lifting. The talented sophomore did warm up on the sidelines as a quarterback following Kyle Allen (shoulder's) injury, but the Panthers were able to grind the game away without his services. Though quiet Sunday, the dazzling back ended his season with 1,965 total yards and 13 total touchdowns.
Coach Ron Rivera admitted Monday that the team will hold internal discussions before deciding whether to hold out key players such as McCaffrey for their Week 17 game against the Saints, Bill Voth of the Panthers' official site reports.
Though the Panthers were eliminated from playoff contention heading into Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Falcons, it didn't stop McCaffrey from playing 83 of the team's 92 offensive snaps (90.2 percent), which actually dropped his season-long percentage to a still-astronomical 97.7 percent. During the contest, McCaffrey reached a milestone by hauling in 12 passes to bump his total up to 106 for the season, establishing a new NFL record for running backs. Aside from giving McCaffrey a chance to reach 2,000 scrimmage yards for the season -- he's 75 shy of that mark -- there's seemingly little benefit for the Panthers to hand the second-year player another massive workload and potentially expose him to injury in an otherwise meaningless season finale. Even if the Panthers elect to hand McCaffrey another start Week 17, there could be some risk of him being pulled from the game early, which would make him a more shaky play than usual in DFS contests.
McCaffrey carried 21 times for 101 yards and caught 12 passes for an additional 77 yards during Sunday's 24-10 loss to the Falcons.
McCaffrey took on a workhorse role with Cam Newton (shoulder) sidelined, setting a new career high in offensive touches. He managed 4.8 yards per carry on the ground, and while he wasn't as effective on a per-catch basis, he still led the team in receiving yardage. Carolina's poor recent form has actually coincided with a drastic uptick in production for McCaffrey, who's averaging 167.7 scrimmage yards per game over the last seven. He'll look to finish what has been an outstanding season in style during Week 17 against the Saints.
McCaffrey was held out of Thursday's session in order to rest, but he was back in action just one day later. The Panthers practiced inside a convention center Friday, so it should be another easy day for McCaffrey and co. He is good to go for Carolina's Week 16 matchup with Atlanta.
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