Even before getting together for the start of OTAs with the Carolina Panthers, running back Christian McCaffrey found time to meet up with new quarterback Sam Darnold to begin working together and building a rapport.
Via Darin Gantt of the team’s website, McCaffrey has already been left with a strong impression of the quarterback Carolina is bringing to town.
“I’ve gotten to know him really well in the last few months,” McCaffrey said. “Just getting together throwing with him and hanging out off the field. He’s an incredible talent and incredible teammate already, so I’m super excited for him. . . .
“I think he’ll fit in great. Already fits in great.”
Darnold and McCaffrey played against each other in college as well with Darnold at USC and McCaffrey at Stanford. He got to see what Darnold could do from the opposite sidelines in that environment. Now he’s learning what Darnold is about up close after the Panthers acquired him in a trade with the New York Jets this offseason.
“He’s very laid back, but he’s definitely a leader too,” McCaffrey said of Darnold. “And he knows when to put his foot down when he needs to and be a leader when he needs to. I think that’s something that makes all quarterbacks great.
“Just demanding attention to detail, demanding a sharp practice, demanding a sense of urgency. that all starts with every individual, but the quarterback touches the ball every play. So if he shows it, then everybody else will rally behind it.”
Darnold will be effectively the Panthers’ fourth different quarterback in as many seasons. Cam Newton‘s last healthy season with the team came in 2018, Kyle Allen started 12 games in place of an injured Newton in 2019, Teddy Bridgewater had the reins for all but one game last season and Darnold will take over the job.