The most frustrating part of the Carolina Panthers’ 2016 season wasn’t their record (6-10). It was the number of games they lost by three points or fewer (that would be six).
Yes, a grand total of 14 points was the difference between 6-10 and 12-4.
Christian McCaffrey can be that difference-maker. The No. 8 pick in the draft, McCaffrey was a do-everything tailback/wideout/returner at Stanford and figures to be a dangerous weapon out of the backfield in the NFL.
“It’s going to be interesting to see,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Obviously everyone is excited to get him in. He hasn’t been able to work out with us quite yet, but he’ll be with us next week in minicamp. Obviously he’s a special player. He’s very dynamic, he’s very good out of the back field – we all saw him play at Stanford. A lot of the questions with him that I think are not necessary accurate are can he be a between-the-tackles and a downhill runner? In our offense, we know what he did in college is very similar to what we do: downhill, gap schemes, power, zone, inside zone, outside zone, and then obviously what he can do coming out of the backfield – not only with designed screens, (but when plays break down).”
In fact, that might be when McCaffrey is most dangerous.
“With a guy like McCaffrey, all of a sudden that two-yard check-down becomes a 20-yard play,” Olsen said. “If it’s third down, those are backbreakers. Those are the plays I think a kid like him brings to the table. From everything we’ve heard and seen, he’s pretty special.”
He is – regardless of the color of his skin.
“He’s probably the last of a dying breed,” Olsen said, referring to white running backs. “It just is what it is. It’s like the white corner. There’s not a lot of them. And he’s pretty special. I think people will get over (his skin color) pretty fast. I’m not sure if he fits that stereotypical mold. I think he’s pretty dynamic and he’s pretty special. But it’s true. There’s not a whole lot of (white running backs) out there.”
Olsen also discussed Kelvin Benjamin, who reportedly arrived at OTAs weighing north of 280 pounds – about 35 pounds heavier than his playing weight of 245.
Benjamin had 63 catches for 941 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
“He’ll be fine,” Olsen said. “He’s had a great offseason so far. The good thing is the games weren’t a couple weeks ago. To see him now out there running around in OTAs, I think if people had a chance to watch him, they’d feel just fine about how he’s been. Kelvin will be just fine.”