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Panthers want to reduce workload on Christian McCaffrey

Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey played 966 snaps last season, which accounted for 91.3 percent of all offensive snaps by the team in 2018.

McCaffrey was the only running back in the league to play on more than 83 percent of his team’s offensive snaps and the only back to play over 900 snaps on the season.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the Panthers want to cut down on that number a bit in 2019.

According to Marcel Louis-Jacques of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said at the Scouting Combine that getting a second back to complement McCaffrey is a priority for the team this offseason.

“Very much so, and that’s the intent, is to find that guy,” Rivera said. “And understanding what Christian did last year, how many reps he played, that’s something we do have to be concerned with.

“Him touching the ball was no concern. It was just the extra plays. So we have to look at that and find a way to take that load from him.”

Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys (890), Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants (853) and Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams (825) were the only running backs besides McCaffrey to crack 800 snaps on the season. Barkley (83.0) and Elliott (82.6) were the only two to play over 80 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.

Alex Armah played 115 snaps for the Panthers but those came at the fullback position. C.J. Anderson (54), Cameron Artis-Payne (48), Travaris Cadet (24) and Kenjon Barner (6) were the only backs besides McCaffrey to get snaps with the team last season.

Rivera said they aren’t necessarily looking for a back with a different skill-set than McCafrrey to get some of the additional snaps next year.

“I think Christian shows you that he can carry the load no matter where he is,” Rivera said. “No matter where we run him — inside or outside, we run him out of the backfield as a receiver, that type of stuff. So really, (it) would be a guy who has, I would say, an almost similar type of skill set, that’s probably what we are looking for.”

Artis-Payne, Cadet and Barner are all set to be free agents. Anderson was released and moved on to the Raiders and Rams. Elijah Hood, who was tendered a contract with the team as an exclusive rights free agent, re-signed with the Panthers and could get some of the chances after missing all of last season with a knee injury.