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Panthers news: Ron Rivera doesn’t want to wear out Christian McCaffrey’s batteries

Christian McCaffrey
Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

Since the Carolina Panthers selected running back Christian McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft, there has been excitement around the organization regarding what he can bring to the team.

The Panthers got their first view of that in the season opener, as McCaffrey rushed for 43 yards on 13 carries along with five catches for 38 receiving yards in the 23-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Following the game, head coach Ron Rivera voiced his delight with the performance, but at the same time, he emphasized that he doesn’t want to wear down the team’s new offensive weapon,

Per David Newton of ESPN.

“It’s like getting that new toy at Christmas,” Rivera said. “You open up the box and there’s what you’d hoped for. But you also have to be wise and smart about when you play with it and when you don’t, because you don’t want to wear the batteries out. You don’t want to break it. What you want to do is utilize it and have fun with it.”

Rivera lived up to this statement with the decision to give McCaffrey shared duties in the backfield with Jonathan Stewart, who actually took on a little more of the workload with 18 carries for 65 rushing yards and two catches for 17 yards and touchdown. If Stewart continues to be an effective option, this should remain the same situation over the 2017 season.

This should prevent McCaffrey from burning out in his rookie campaign while remaining a versatile asset for the Panthers’ offense. During Sunday’s game, he played in 70 percent of the snaps, which was the second-highest mark on the team on offense aside from quarterback Cam Newton or any of the starting offensive line.

McCaffrey is a unique talent that has the ability to impact the game as a rusher, receiver, and punt returner. It could be just a matter of time until he takes up a much larger role in the offense.