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Christian McCaffrey is playing to win and hopefully join the 1,000-1,000 club along the way


CHARLOTTE – Christian McCaffrey already has 1,220 rushing yards and he's 274 away from 1,000 receiving yards with three games left.

So, after Thursday's practice, he fielded several questions about his quest to join the exclusive 1,000-1,000 club. That club only has two members: Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk.

"That would mean a lot. It would be a lot better if it was relevant and we were playing in the postseason," McCaffrey said. "The 1,000-1,000 mark is an opportunity. I've been fortunate to get a lot of opportunities with the ball in my hands.

"All I ever try to do is help my team win," he added. "At the end of the day, the most important thing in football is winning."

McCaffrey came close to achieving the feat last year but he wound up finishing the season with 867 receiving yards, still a franchise record for a running back.

"The statistics come and go, records get broken, so the biggest thing I try to control is my approach, my preparation and making sure I'm ready to go on Sunday," McCaffrey said.

That mindset has served the star running back well. McCaffrey said he used to worry a lot more about individual statistics when he was younger – rushing for 100 yards and things of that sort. Once he stopped being consumed by that, he found he was much more productive.

And as the centerpiece of Carolina's offense, he doesn't have to worry about touches or targets. As offensive coordinator Scott Turner said, the offense operates through him.

"I think individual statistics get highlighted in today's society and with today's football watchers because of fantasy football, because of gambling and because of other stuff," McCaffrey said. "I think some of that stuff can take away from the beauty of football."

But McCaffrey will also readily acknowledge that having good stats usually means you're helping your team win.

Unfortunately, Carolina has lost five in a row. Just like last year, the second half of the season has been a slide out of contention.

That's led to chatter about whether or not the Panthers should be playing to win with a game against Seattle up next.

"Just don't focus on it," McCaffrey said of that outside noise. "I don't think you would ever ask anybody in any other profession to not do their job well or try to be the best they can be.

"No matter what anybody outside of here says, we know when there is an opportunity to go play football, we are going to take advantage of it and have fun with it."