Panthers OC to feed RB McCaffrey 'any way we can'

The Carolina Panthers are playing out the string but running back Christian McCaffrey has his sights set on a record-breaking day Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

With 67 receiving yards, McCaffrey would become just the third player in NFL history with 1,000-plus rush yards and 1,000-plus receiving yards in a single season, joining Marshall Faulk (1999) and Roger Craig (1985).

"You just tune it out, go with the flow," McCaffrey said of his preparation for Sunday's game, via the team's official website. "Enjoy the ride and whatever happens, happens. The biggest thing is focusing on the preparation before that so when the game comes you don't have to think about anything, you just get in the zone."

The 67 receiving yards needed seem like child's play for McCaffrey, who has toyed with defenses all season. He's coming off a 119-yard receiving day in Week 16, and the past three weeks he's been over the 80-yard receiving mark in every game. In the previous meeting with the Saints in Week 12, he generated 69 yards receiving and 64 yards rushing.

The 1,000/1,000 club isn't the only record CMC is chasing Sunday. With 216 scrimmage yards, he'd break the single-season record for most scrimmage yards held by Chris Johnson (2,509 in 2009).

Despite the chance to make history, the running back insists he's just focusing on beating the Saints.

"It's one of those things where, obviously, there's a record out there that people are talking about, but at the end of the day, I'm just preparing to try and win a football game," McCaffrey said.

The 216 scrimmage yards are a lot, even for the focal point of the offense. He has blasted past that number once this season, however, in Week 5 versus Jacksonville (237).

Sitting at 5-10, with nothing else to play for, surely the Panthers will force-feed the ball to McCaffrey, right?

"We'll try to get him the ball any way we can," offensive coordinator Scott Turner said. "As you guys have seen, you never know how it's going to come up, but obviously, that's a big accomplishment."

Feeding CMC wouldn't be a change from the normal Panthers offense. The running back has been the entire operation regularly this season, carrying the offense at every turn.

McCaffrey became the fourth player, and first RB, in NFL history with 100-plus receptions in two of his first three seasons. Others: Anquan Boldin (2003, 2005), Brandon Marshall (2007-2008) and Michael Thomas (2017-2018).

McCaffrey's 109 receptions are the most in a season by a running back in NFL history, which broke his own record set last season (107 receptions).

When CMC is on the field, more likely than not, the ball is coming his way. The question is whether interim coach Perry Fewell would sit down the workhorse in the season finale to avoid an injury to the franchise's centerpiece in a meaningless bout.

"I'm not saying I won't pull him at some point in the game, but we're going to try to win a football game," Fewell said. "If we have an opportunity to win a game and the game is close and tight, he'll be in there. He'll be battling. He'll want to be in there. Or he'll be battling me on the sideline."

With another big week, McCaffrey could battle his way into the record books once again.

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