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Camp Notebook: Christian McCaffrey ready to roll

Christian McCaffrey

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Christian McCaffrey has a zest for training camp.

The Panthers' star running back said he doesn't have to "survive" practice under the hot Spartanburg sun; in fact, he sees it as a blessing, and even makes the experience of staying in Wofford's dorms as luxurious as he can.

Couple McCaffrey's gratitude and enthusiasm with the fact he's fully healthy (and that he knows what the first question is going to be), and the grin across his face tells the story.

"I feel great, feel the best I've ever felt," McCaffrey said. "I'm ready to go. I know my teammates are as well, and we're all excited to be here."

McCaffrey has only played in 10 games across the last two seasons due to a string of injuries, and he said he's made some changes "here and there" to his offseason regimen.

But as far as training camp is concerned, head coach Matt Rhule said McCaffrey's workload is slated to be largely the same as years prior, though the Panthers are open to other adjustments due to McCaffrey's age.

The 26-year-old is going into his sixth year in the league, and did not play in the preseason last year.

"We're going to do maybe a couple things different in training camp, but I think our training camps with Christian have been right," Rhule said. "I think he's entered the season and been really healthy and productive early.

"But he is a year older. As players get older, they get a little bit more break-in time and all those things. So we might give him some time here and there."

McCaffrey is adding attention to recovery during training camp, with his room at Wofford equally ready for treatment and relaxation — as upscale as he can make a dorm.

"(It's) definitely a bougie room, I'd say probably the bougiest room on the team," McCaffrey said. "I like to come back and make it comfortable. It looks like half of a treatment room and half of a Four Seasons room."

– One day after Rhule said he's looking for the defense to jump "from good to great" at this year's training camp, third-year safety Jeremy Chinn offered his interpretation of what that means both for him as an individual and the defense as a unit.

More turnovers.

"It looks like taking the ball away," Chinn said. "Our turnover margin last year was not where we wanted it to be, so this year, taking the ball away is our next step."

Chinn finished 2021 with a team-high 106 tackles along with one sack and one interception.

The Panthers tallied 16 takeaways against 29 giveaways last season, resulting in a -13 turnover differential which was tied for second-to-last in the league.

– New quarterback Baker Mayfield arrived in camp Tuesday morning with veteran linebacker Shaq Thompson.

Mayfield's trade from the Browns was made official just under three weeks ago, and he's since taken time to get to know his teammates and the playbook – as demonstrated from his throwing session with pass catchers and fellow quarterbacks.

And Thompson, a Carolina veteran headed into his eighth year, pulled in with the newest Panther to the dorms at Wofford.

Rhule said Thompson won't be participating in training camp as he recovers from a minor knee procedure, though he believes the linebacker will be back for Week 1 against Cleveland

– All Panthers expected to report to training camp arrived Tuesday, including safety Xavier Woods, Rhule said. Woods missed OTAs and minicamp while dealing with a family matter.

View photos from Wofford as Panthers players arrive for the start of the 2022 training camp.

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