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Carolina Panthers

Notebook: Christian McCaffrey gets a day off

Christian McCaffrey

CHARLOTTE — Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey got the day off Wednesday, and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said that's likely to become a regular thing.

He still broke a sweat — because McCaffrey works intensely even when he's not practicing — but the plan appears to be to let him practice on Thursdays and Fridays.

"Part of our plan with Christian right now, we rested him today, on Wednesdays giving him an extra day to recover," Rhule said. "Not that he even really needs it, to be honest with you, he wanted to go practice today.

"But over the long haul, just the amount of contacts those guys take, not just the tackling, but the blocking, it's part of playing the position."

McCaffrey shrugged when asked about it, not wanting to make a big deal out of any part of the conversation. When he talked with Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk this offseason, Faulk suggested that if the team was going to offer him a day off, he should accept it.

"Definitely," McCaffrey replied when reminded of that advice.

"I feel great; the body feels great," he said. "I just know this is a big mental day, and tomorrow will be a good practice.

"Getting your eyes right is the biggest thing (while not practicing). Putting your eyes in the right place. Putting your eyes on the right reads, especially when they're blitzing, making sure you know mentally exactly who you have. And then in the run game, just pretending you're in the game and putting your eyes in the right spot, and getting the full picture of the field."

Like the discussion of his workload during the week, McCaffrey didn't have many thoughts on his usage on Sundays. He had 14 touches last week against the Browns, and they'd likely prefer to find a happy medium between that and the 59 touches he got in the first two games of last year.

"I just want to win," McCaffrey said. "Whatever it takes to win is all that I want to do."

— Rhule said that wide receiver Andre Roberts — who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday — would likely miss two months because of a knee issue.

With that extended absence for the veteran, Rhule said the plan was to use Shi Smith on punt returns, and likely Chuba Hubbard on kickoffs.

They'll continue to work wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. as a possible option as well.

— Rhule said that they planned to stick with the current starting five on the offensive line, specifically mentioning that Pat Elflein would remain at center.

Bradley Bozeman is still working his way back after an ankle injury in the preseason, and could become a factor there in the future. But Rhule said he was "pleased with the stoutness of the middle of the line."

— Quarterback Baker Mayfield has some familiarity with this week's opponent, since Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale was the coordinator for the Ravens the previous four years, and Mayfield faced his defenses twice a year. Mayfield won three of those eight starts and completed 58.2 percent of his passes (177-of-303) for 2,221 yards, with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions, for a passer rating of 83.2.

He also got some glimpses of some of the Giants' personnel after going through joint practices with them last year during training camp.

View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Panthers prepare to take on the Giants this weekend.

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