Panthers news: Christian McCaffrey says retiring running backs coach Jim Skipper 'believed in me from the jump'
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Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey says retiring running backs coach Jim Skipper ‘believed in me from the jump’

The Carolina Panthers are in need of a new running backs coach. No matter who replaces Jim Skipper, though, it’s almost impossible he’ll make a similar difference in the career trajectory of star back Christian McCaffrey.

“He believed in me from the jump. That meant more than anything,” McCaffrey said of Skipper, per Max Henson of Panthers. com. “You develop a special bond with someone when you know they have your back. I’m going to miss the heck out of him. He had a huge influence on the start of my NFL career.”

Many believed Carolina reached by making McCaffrey a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft, concerned that his relatively diminutive stature would limit his ability to run between the tackles and lead to increased injury risk at the next level.

But the Stanford product has instead emerged as one of the league’s most versatile playmakers, rushing for 1,098 yards and seven scores on 5.0 yards per carry and catching 107 passes for 867 yards and six scores as a sophomore in 2018.

He even showed off his throwing arm last season, too, connecting on a 50-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Manhertz against the New Orleans Saints on December 17th.

McCaffrey, obviously, will remain an integral cog of the Panthers’ offense without the help of Skipper.

But it bears wondering where he’d be right now absent the guidance of the three-decade NFL coaching veteran, who began his career as running backs coach of the Saints in 1986.

Skipper, 70, joined Carolina under the same position in 2013, and retires as one of the longest-serving position coaches in NFL history.