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Carolina Panthers

OTA Notebook: Christian McCaffrey listening to his body, and legends

Christian McCaffrey

CHARLOTTE — Christian McCaffrey has shown he can do a little bit of everything.

Learning how to recharge wasn't anything he necessarily realized he needed to learn to do. But when he did, he called up a Hall of Fame running back for tips.

In an effort to keep himself fresh for the coming regular season, McCaffrey said he reached out to former Colts and Rams superstar Marshall Faulk this offseason for any tips he might have. Faulk played 12 years in the league, and never played fewer than 11 games in any of those seasons. So he gets it.

"I've always changed stuff, always looking to see how you can get better, how you can get bigger, faster, stronger, smarter," McCaffrey said Tuesday. "One thing I've done is I've reached out to a lot of backs who have played. A guy I'm really appreciative for, Marshall Faulk, gave me some great advice. Just listening to what he had to say and the different things that he did in the offseason at different points. Injuries or not, sometimes you've got to change your offseason and your approach. . . .

"And you know, if there's some things that can tack on a few more years and prevent some stuff, I'm all in. But I'm excited, man, I'm really excited. I trust my process and the team of people I have around me, and I'm extremely excited for this year."

McCaffrey is eager to look forward, since he's been limited to 10 games the last two seasons because of a collection of injuries.

The Panthers didn't play him in the preseason last year, and head coach Matt Rhule said Tuesday that would likely be the case again this year. But the effort to save wear and tear on the soon-to-be 26-year-old running back (who led the league with 2,392 yards from scrimmage in 2019) goes beyond that. The approach has been comprehensive, from his sleep habits to the number of reps he takes in practice, with McCaffrey hailing the "great communication," he's had with the staff to keep himself fresh.

While his natural tendency is to work through things, McCaffrey's learning that sometimes doing less can actually be more.

"I think it's just a constant listening to your body, and I think that's the best way to sum it up," he said. "Just listen to my body, do all the little things correct, eat right, sleep right, eliminate any kind of other energy exertions. And I know how I feel, and so just trusting in that and not overdoing it, not underdoing it.

"But I think that whether guys have had injuries or not, that's something that every NFL player goes through in the offseason is when to do what. But that's the fun part about it, you know, trying to figure it out. All I know is I feel great now."

— The OTAs that the Panthers are continuing this week (Tuesday was the second of 10) are voluntary, but most of the roster was on hand for the first workout open to the full local media.

Defensive end Brian Burns was among the present, though there were a few players missing.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule mentioned that safety Xavier Woods and tackle Cameron Erving were away after for family reasons (the good kind, new babies). Wide receiver Robbie Anderson wasn't here Tuesday, but has been around earlier this offseason.

"I actually believe in it being voluntary," Rhule said. "I think it's great. You know, at the end of the day, you know, guys that are here, are here. And you know one thing about Robbie, Robbie is going to be in the best shape of his life."

— Defensive end Marquis Haynes Sr. was on the sidelines Tuesday, with his left hand in a cast and his arm in a sling.

Rhule said Haynes had surgery on his hand, and while no timetables were offered (it's May), it doesn't appear to be the kind of thing that would keep him from participating in training camp.

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