SPARTANBURG, SC - After an injury-riddled 2020 season, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is back and fully healthy. McCaffrey missed a total of 13 games last year as he suffered ankle, shoulder, and groin injuries at various points of the season.
McCaffrey's last full season was in 2019 and it was a record-setting type of year for him. He became the 3rd player in NFL history to go over 1,000 yards in both rushing and receiving in the same season joining Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk. Expecting that to happen in 2021 or for it to ever happen again is a bit unfair to McCaffrey but he is a special type of talent and if there's anyone who can reach such an enormous feat like that twice, it's McCaffrey.
In the three games McCaffrey did play in last season, he was as electric as usual. He totaled 225 yards and five touchdowns on the ground and 149 yards and one touchdown in the passing game. Those are pretty darn good numbers for just three games and not to mention, in a completely new offense.
Not being able to play was frustrating for McCaffrey but it was also a reality check that even the players who take really good care of their body, can still get injured on any given snap. He talked about the difficulty of having to watch the games from the sidelines.
"It teaches you a lot for sure. You learn a lot about yourself," McCaffrey said. "You are kind of forced when you go through adversity to either fold or keep going. It was tough at first but I think I learned so much and I have such a big appreciation for this game and what it's given me. I'll never take that for granted."
Despite the numerous injuries that McCaffrey suffered in 2020, he plans to train the same way, at least for the most part.
"You're always adjusting. I mean, for me, I'm always adjusting little things here and there based on how I feel. It's really kind of an on-the-move adjustment. Like, if I feel something in the morning, maybe I'll adjust a certain part of the run or a certain part of the lift but it's really just staying true to who I am. I've had success and felt good in the past training the way I train but it's also about not overreacting. Injuries happen in football and I'm so past that now, I'm just focused on this year."
Prior to last season, McCaffrey had only missed one game dating back to his college days at Stanford. He takes extreme pride in taking care of his body and his durability shows. However, once a running back starts dealing with several injuries and begins missing a lot of games, fans start to worry about how much they have left in them. Running backs have the shortest lifespan in the NFL due to the beating they take on each play, each carry. Even with high expectations for his return, McCaffrey is focused and taking it one day at a time.
"I don't feel pressured, I think the biggest thing I feel is excited. I'm so fired up to play football again. I feel great. I feel awesome."
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