Carolina's Christian McCaffrey is classified on the roster as a running back yet last season, he was the team's leading receiver and it really wasn't close. McCaffrey had 867 yards receiving in addition to the 1,098 yards he gained on the ground. It gave him an astounding 1,965 total yards from scrimmage in 2018.
He hasn't slowed that pace this season, either. In Week 1, McCaffrey had 128 yards on the ground and 81 yards receiving, giving him over 200 yards in the game along with his two rushing touchdowns. Cool.
"He's probably the best dual-back there is in the league right now," Head Coach Bruce Arians said of McCaffrey. "I used to think it was David Johnson, but Christian's passed him up. As a receiver, he's a hell of a match-up problem, and as a runner, he's a great runner. They do a good job of having two backs in the game and you never know which one's going anywhere and they have a lot of speed. You always have to be accountable for Cam [Newton] breaking down and making something happen on his own, so it's always a tough offense to defend."
"Major – he creates a lot of problems," Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles added. "He had about 200 total yards yesterday of offense. Again, not just running the ball but catching the ball, as well. He is a great route runner, he has great hands [and] he is probably one of the best all-around backs in the game right now."
If the coaches are aware – you can bet the players are, too. Inside linebacker Lavonte David, who will undoubtedly have to cover him on more than one occasion on Thursday, said the team will have to play very disciplined football against the Panthers' offense. Bowles has been game-planning for him and his offensive counterparts tirelessly and the answer for McCaffrey, in particular, doesn't rest on any single player.
"I don't think you can stop him with one guy – sometimes not even with two, and he's not the only guy they have," Bowles said. "They are very talented across the board. We've just got to play disciplined football."
There's that word discipline. Seems as though is players have gotten the message.