Panthers’ McCaffrey downplays added muscle mass

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) walks off the field after their game against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Wild Card playoff football gamePhoto Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

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Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey wanted to increase his strength during the offseason as a means to break tackles.

While McCaffrey admitted to gaining five pounds of what he deems “good muscle,” the second-year star has heard the whispers and read the comments over social media on his changing body.

“Everybody’s acting like I was tiny last year and now I’ve had this big growth,” the 5-foot-11, 210-pound McCaffrey said after the Panthers wrapped up their first week of organized team activities. “It’s not like I’ve transformed.”

McCaffrey hopes the added muscle doesn’t slow him down, however.

“We’ll see. I just want to play where I feel fastest, where I feel most explosive, where I feel most comfortable,” McCaffrey said. “I don’t want to be too heavy or too light. I just go off comfort. If I grow, I grow. I think I’m definitely still growing. I’m 21 still, so hopefully, as I get older and older, I’ll continue to grow physically and mentally.”

McCaffrey rushed for 435 yards and two touchdowns to go along with a franchise rookie-record 80 receptions for 651 yards and five scores in 16 games last season after being selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.

He is expected to shoulder more of the load since franchise rushing leader Jonathan Stewart was released in the offseason. Stewart has since latched on with the New York Giants.

Former Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, 27, joined the Panthers fresh off a career-high 1,007 yards last season.

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