All offseason the Carolina Panthers preached giving Christian McCaffrey a couple more breathers through the course of the game, but entering the year didn’t have a backup RB they believed in enough to take CMC off the field.
Reggie Bonnafon is starting to earn that trust.
“When you get an opportunity to make plays and you take advantage of those opportunities, you are going to get more opportunities,” offensive coordinator Norv Turner said, via Max Henson of the team’s official website.
Bonnafon signed with Carolina as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and spent the year on the practice squad. The Panthers gave him a chance to become a backup option to CMC this year, eschewing the opportunity to import a veteran player. Bonnafon is starting to grow on the coaching staff.
“Reggie is such a deserving guy because he’s worked so hard,” Turner said. “He’s probably improved more than any player on offense over the last year and a half.”
Bonnafon has been active all five games this season. After seeing just two totes for five yards through the first four tilts, the 23-year-old blasted off for 80 yards on five carries, including a 59-yard touchdown scamper, in Week 5 versus Jacksonville. He participated in just 11 plays on offense — a career high — but saw a couple snaps with McCaffrey on the field as well. It’s possible the Panthers could use both backs on the field more down the road to make the offense more unpredictable.
With McCaffrey nursing a back injury, Bonnafon’s improvement is noteworthy. CMC has been carrying the offense to start the season. He missed just four snaps through the first four weeks before sitting out the end of last week’s win due to cramps. To keep McCaffrey fresher down the stretch, the Panthers might consider giving him a few more snaps off here and there.
If Bonnafon continues to earn the team’s trust, taking CMC off the field for a handful of plays will become easier.
How’s Christian McCaffrey doing? Coach Ron Rivera told me CMC’s back is a little sore, but he is doing just fine. He did not practice yesterday, but Rivera said that the “Wednesday off day” is the new norm for CMC #keeppounding pic.twitter.com/h9voFjbyEA
â Tiffany Blackmon (@tiffblackmon)
October 10, 2019