“It’s kind of weird all the attention that’s gotten," McCaffrey said with a laugh after Tuesday’s practice. “Do they look bigger to you? You tell me."
But McCaffrey was more than happy to talk about the time spent with 11-year-old Peyton Raper. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Peyton was given the opportunity to practice with his favorite NFL team and player.
“I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I was so ready for this," said Peyton, from Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. He has Burkitt lymphoma, a rare, but highly aggressive, B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The lack of sleep didn’t impact Peyton’s readiness. He participated in almost every drill wearing a No. 21 jersey -- McCaffrey wears No. 22 and isn’t sure how that happened -- and a helmet on a hot, humid morning.
That didn’t go unnoticed by McCaffrey, whose offseason workout that led to larger biceps and more speed has him in arguably the best shape of his life.
“He said it: Hard work pays off," McCaffrey said of Peyton. “He has a lot of grit. Barely even had to get some water. Came in hydrated and ready to go.
“He’s already a vet."
McCaffrey had almost as much fun hanging out with Peyton as Peyton did with him. It made the sticky temperature that neared 90 degrees halfway through the morning practice seem more bearable.
“This guy is inspiring to us," McCaffrey said. “It gives you a little extra juice knowing he was out there. It was a hot day, so having him out there motivated us a little bit extra.
“When you see somebody going through what he’s had to, it’s really an honor. We had a blast today."
Peyton’s appearance at practice stole the show on a day when quarterback Cam Newton took a personal day off to handle an issue at home.
“It means a lot," McCaffrey said. “Obviously, going through what he’s going through, being able to spend some time with us, it really puts things in perspective."