Perpetually looking to prove himself, Christian McCaffrey 'will do anything' in the NFL

Perpetually looking to prove himself, Christian McCaffrey 'will do anything' in the NFL

INDIANAPOLIS — Blink and you may miss Christian McCaffrey racing down the sidelines for a highlight-reel touchdown.

For the past three years, McCaffrey has made a living of making Pac-12 defenders look foolish on Saturdays. But for whatever reason, McCaffrey has had to fight to prove critics wrong since the day he strapped on football pads.

McCaffrey, the son of three-time Super Bowl champion and member of the Denver Broncos 50th Anniversary Team Ed McCaffrey, took center stage at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Thursday afternoon and was candid when talking about the outside perception of him as a running back at the next level.

"I always play with a chip on my shoulder," McCaffrey said. "I feel like a lot of people don't give my credit for my skills and talents. That's just the way it is. But I also don't care too much. I don't feel like I'm crazy disrespected.

"I have a chip on my shoulder at all times. That's been my whole life. I'm constantly trying to prove myself."

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why McCaffrey, somebody who holds Stanford's single-season all purpose yardage record and was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2015, has felt disrespected when stacked up against the other top running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft class.

[MORE: Ryan Pace and John Fox unlikely to place win-now mandate on Bears' draft plans]

While he may not be as physically imposing as LSU's Leonard Fournette and doesn't have the measurables as a prototypical three-down NFL running back, McCaffrey sees his versatility as something that can separate himself from other backs.

"Something I really pride myself on is not just being a running back that can catch the ball, but if I move out to the slot I become a receiver. If I move out to X or Z, I become a receiver not just a running back," McCaffrey said. "I try to pride myself in route-running and catching, and being able to be a mismatch anywhere on the field.

"Anytime I can get the ball in my hands I feel like I can do something dangerous and it's really why I love the return game. There's so much space in front of you. It's just another opportunity to make a play."

With his unique skillset, there's no question that McCaffrey will be an asset to any team that drafts him in April.

Does he have a preference?

"I'd be happy to play for anybody."

And if the whole football thing doesn't work out for McCaffrey, he's got a backup plan.

"I ordered a harmonica on Amazon about $15 and just started messing around with it."

NFL will reportedly cut 2020 preseason in half; will drop Weeks 1 and 4

NFL will reportedly cut 2020 preseason in half; will drop Weeks 1 and 4

It's long been rumored, but on Wednesday things became a bit more official: the NFL will reportedly cut the 2020 preseason in half: 

Shortening the preseason has been a topic of conversation around the league for a while now, but a new urgency has been attached to the idea because of the ongoing the COVID-19 pandemic. As states continue struggling with rising infection rates, beginning the season on time looks more and more unlikely. The NFL has already altered their season schedule to accomodate for a delayed start or early-season interruption. 

It's especially bad news for the Bears, who were planning on using all four preseason games to determine whether Nick Foles or Mitch Trubisky would win the starting quarterback job. Without half their preseason games (they'd lose games against Cleveland and Tennessee), things obviously become much trickier. 

Bears rookie pass rusher Trevis Gipson has talent to contribute quickly

Bears rookie pass rusher Trevis Gipson has talent to contribute quickly

In talking to various trusted football minds around the NFL recently, two common thoughts come up when discussing Bears rookie pass rusher Trevis Gipson:

1. He should have been drafted in the fourth round.
2. He was playing out of position at Tulsa.

It’s very possible that the latter impacted the former. The Bears traded up in the fifth round to draft Gipson at No. 155 overall and they’ve been very decisive with their plan for him – he’s going to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in Chicago.

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Many of the “tweener” pass rush prospects in the NFL Draft play in different fronts in college than they do when they transition to the NFL. In Gipson’s case, he played in a three-man front at Tulsa, but was used more as a five-technique on the line of scrimmage. With the Bears, he’ll be in a base 3-4 defense, but playing a different position on the edge.
You don’t have to watch a lot of tape to understand why Bears general manager Ryan Pace and defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano want to use Gipson on the edge. At 6’6 ⅜” and 261 pounds, he has an 81 ¼” wing span that can’t be taught and his lengthy frame doesn’t give him a lot of leverage when he lines up in tight spaces on the line. He’s better off using that length on the edge and, in my opinion, his best college tape came when he was lined up wide.

Realistic rookie expectations: Gipson is a bit of a project because he’s switching positions and he certainly hasn’t been helped by COVID-19 shutting down offseason practices. But the Bears aren’t asking him to start right away. They have Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn to rush the passer. Gipson has the talent to contribute as a rotational player and perhaps he can provide an occasional spark off the bench. His college production doesn’t lie. Gipson had 12 sacks and 24 tackles for loss in his final two seasons at Tulsa.

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