Attention guests: The Christian McCaffrey hype train is preparing to leave the station. All passengers are requested to board directly. Thank you.
The Carolina Panthers second-year running back is readying for a larger workload in 2018 after carrying just 117 times for 435 yards (3.7 average) and two rushing scores as a rookie. McCaffrey led the team with 80 receptions for 651 yards with five TDs. While the catch total will be difficult to exceed, there is plenty of room for McCaffrey to increase his carries.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera suggested the Stanford product could exceed 200 totes this season.
"Everybody forgets when he was in college he ran between the tackles more than anybody and he touched the ball more than anybody," Rivera said, via ESPN.com. "So I don't see why not."
McCaffrey earned 632 carries in three seasons at Stanford -- including 590 his final two years. With new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's penchant for utilizing one workhorse, the dual-threat McCaffrey could become an every-down back in 2018.
"Now with Norv and seeing some of the things he's done in the past with some of the guys he's had, I feel very comfortable that he'll find ways to use him and get the ball to him," Rivera said.
As we ramp up to the season, there will be questions about whether the 205-pound back can handle a larger workload or whether he's best suited as an outside runner and pass catcher. While he broke off few big runs as a rookie, McCaffrey gained at least four yards on 47 percent of his carries last season, per Chase Stuart of Football Perspective.
Last season, Jonathan Stewart took 198 carries for Carolina. His departure to New York opens those totes for McCaffrey and newly signed C.J. Anderson to split. Expect McCaffrey to get the first bite at a big chunk of the carries.