CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The wait for Christian McCaffrey is finally over. The Panthers’ rookie first-rounder joined the team just in time for the final practice of minicamp.
An outdated NFL rule prevented McCaffrey from practicing with the team until Stanford’s spring quarter exams finished.
While he was away McCaffrey spent up to an hour a day reviewing the different installations with running backs coach Jim Skipper.
“I got really lucky coming to a place like this,” McCaffrey said. “We have a lot of vets helping me out, and the coaches are great. So I just came in and have been studying so hard. Today was just about going out and playing fast. It’s nice getting back and playing football again.”
Coach Ron Rivera noted several plays where he felt McCaffrey’s study helped him make the right read.
“We’re very excited to have him out here, and be a part of what we’re doing,” Rivera said. “As brief as it was, I think his teammates got a feel for the flair that he can help bring to what we want to do offensively.”
Although he’s expected to make an immediate impact, McCaffrey is not immune to the typical rookie ribbing. When McCaffrey approached the media after practice, Cam Newton jokingly interrupted.
“Woah, woah, woah, woah,” Newton said. “Let me go ahead and knock mine out of the way first. I’m not waiting behind no Christian McCaffrey. I know you all have been waiting on Christian, including myself. Ok you all don’t have any questions? Ok Christian.”
“Thanks Cam,” McCaffrey said as he stepped forward to the media.
Veteran tight end Greg Olsen says it’s those types of things that make young players feel the most anxious.
“Just getting around the guys, and feeling like you’re a part of the team,” Olsen said. “I think all of the physical stuff will be fine. I think his talent, work ethic and intelligence will take care of that.”
McCaffrey and the rest of the rookies are allowed to use the team facilities all next week to lift weights. Training camp in late July will be the next time we see the guys step on the field.