CHARLOTTE — Though he recently signed a contract extension that runs through the 2025 season, running back Christian McCaffrey took on a second career over the summer.
With no in-person offseason program, McCaffrey got behind a camera to help his girlfriend, Olivia Culpo, with an at-home photoshoot. He'd never done anything like it before, which you'd never be able to tell by looking at the results of the seven pictures published online in Vogue India.
It's one more thing to add to the 24-year-old McCaffrey's already long list of accomplishments.
But he won't be quitting his day job.
"That's a one-and-done for me," McCaffrey said Thursday. "That was a long day. I never knew how much time goes into that stuff. So I can say that I photographed one time and my work is on the cover of Vogue Magazine.
"And I retired right after that."
Now it's back to football for the fourth-year running back, who's thrilled to be back doing what he does best.
"It's been amazing, honestly. Waiting that long for football, (I was) getting very anxious toward the end there," McCaffrey said. "Just being around the guys, getting back to football, it's been really fun. Long overdue for us."
McCaffrey and the rest of Carolina's offensive personnel are familiarizing themselves with coordinator Joe Brady's new scheme. McCaffrey described it as a fun offense that wants to be fast, physical, and efficient.
"I think the biggest thing is once you have the offense down, start going out there making sure your steps are right, making sure your eyes are right, making sure we're communicating," McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey was part of the informal minicamp quarterback Teddy Bridgewater organized a few weeks ago in Charlotte. McCaffrey said those workouts made the transition from quarantine to training camp easier because it gave them time to begin to learn one another's on-field tendencies.
"We didn't want the first pass to be Day 1 of training camp," McCaffrey added.
With so many of the Panthers getting to know the playbook for the first time, McCaffrey agrees that it's vital that Bridgewater has a history with Brady and the scheme.
"(Bridgewater) knows exactly what he wants in every route. He knows exactly what he wants to do in his run-game footwork. So hearing from him and talking through some different things, making sure we're on the same page, is helpful because he does know what he wants," McCaffrey said. "We can obviously take what he's run in the past and personalize it a little bit. He's a guy that's open to suggestions, too, which is awesome. So it's just been fun getting to learn and getting to nail down the details that are going to end up really mattering."
As you'd expect for someone who became just the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, all the details matter to McCaffrey. It's why he's spent more time learning about the offensive line and blocking schemes.
"You can always learn little things," McCaffrey said. "That's the beauty of it is you can never stop learning, and there's always little things to pick up on — how certain O-linemen pull, how certain O-linemen zone block."
Following an offseason full of change, the Panthers are an under-the-radar squad entering the 2020 season. McCaffrey is okay with that, and with him, it wouldn't matter either way.
"One thing I love about this team is you can tell that everybody's hungry," he said. "We have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove and more to themselves than anyone else."
Clearly, McCaffrey counts himself among that group. Sure, he's garnered praise and rewards, but there's plenty he's yet to do on a football field. That's motivation enough.
At least we know he isn't going back to being a photographer. He's already retired.
View photos from the practice field on Thursday morning at training camp.