Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey isn’t allowed to participate in Organized Team Activities because of an NFL rule keeping rookies off the field until their colleges’ end their spring semesters. McCaffrey is not a fan of that rule.
“It sucks,” McCaffrey told the team’s website, “it’s really tough.”
McCaffrey went to Stanford, where final exams aren’t over until June 14, so until then he’s not allowed at the Panthers facility. That’s true even though McCaffrey isn’t even enrolled at Stanford anymore — the rule applies whether the player is currently a student or not.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is not a fan of the rule either, but McCaffrey says he’s making the best of a bad situation by talking on the phone with running backs coach Jim Skipper.
“He’ll quiz me over the phone, and then I’ll go over everything, and he’ll tell me what to learn for the next day,” McCaffrey said. “You can still get the plays down and get good training when you’re home, but nothing will ever compete with actually getting the reps on the field, being with the guys. It is what it is. That’s the rule, and we’ll just have to deal with it.”
The NFL says the rule is designed to encourage players not to drop out of college, but realistically, many top players already choose not to enroll in the spring semester because they they want to prepare for the Scouting Combine and the draft. Many rookies haven’t been college students since December, and it’s silly to tell those rookies they can’t practice until their college semesters are over.