Christian McCaffrey wasn’t allowed to join the Carolina Panthers for the first three weeks of OTAs, but on Thursday the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft got to make his debut with the rest of the team.
Due to a rule that disallows rookies from practicing until after the end of their university’s final exams, McCaffrey hadn’t been on the practice field since rookie minicamp at the beginning of May. Stanford’s school schedule meant McCaffrey wasn’t able to practice until after June 14.
“It sucks whenever your team is competing and you’re not,” McCaffrey told reporters Thursday, via Panthers.com. “But you’ve got to follow the system, and I’m glad to be here now ... Just get some jitters out and come out here and play football.”
Unfortunately for McCaffrey, Thursday was the final day of OTAs for the Panthers. He won’t be able to hit the practice field again with the team until training camp begins. Still, his teammates were impressed with what they saw.
“He did awesome,” running back Fozzy Whittaker said, via Panthers.com. “Not being able to be here for all of OTAs and then to be able to come in the last day and be able to pick things up like that and do it efficiently and make plays — that’s what we brought him in to do.”
The media was also excited to see McCaffrey and talk to Carolina’s first-round pick Thursday — a little too excited, according to Cam Newton, who jokingly made sure he got the appropriate amount of attention instead of the rookie:
McCaffrey’s college teammate, Solomon Thomas, also had to wait until after Wednesday to join the San Francisco 49ers. But the last OTA for the 49ers was Wednesday, meaning the No. 3 overall pick will have to wait until training camp to work with the team.