“I watched a lot of tape of him from back in the day,” Max said. “I used to watch his one-on-one tapes all the time.”
No wonder he kept bugging teammate Davante Adams for video clips all offseason.
“He’s texting me, asking me to send him clips from last year, releases and things like that,” Adams said. “He’s just a student of the game, and you can see it really means a lot to him out there, and the details are refined in what he’s been doing. If he keeps that up, he’s going to put himself in pretty good position.”
The younger McCaffrey, who is trying to make the Green Bay Packers' roster, has been able to take all that film work to the field. The 23-year-old receiver isn’t just someone with a familiar last name. He has jumped out time and again during training camp this summer and has put himself in position to make the team at perhaps the Packers’ deepest position.
Without the fanfare that followed his younger brother Christian McCaffrey, the running back who was the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft by the Carolina Panthers, Max appears to have found a home with the Packers. He signed with the Raiders coming out of Duke in 2016 and came to Green Bay on Dec. 20, when he was signed to the practice squad. A month later, he was elevated to the active roster on the eve of the NFC Championship Game, although he was inactive after it became clear that the Packers’ injured receivers -- Jordy Nelson, Geronimo Allison and Adams -- would gut it out against the Falcons.
“It’s tough coming in as an undrafted guy,” McCaffrey said. “I came in later in the year last year so I definitely want to come out and prove every day, I love this game, so every day I get a chance to do it, do it to the best of my ability.”
This offseason gave McCaffrey the chance to catch up; he was even allowed to attend the rookie camp in May. He was the only player in that camp who finished the season on the active roster.
Early in training camp, McCaffrey caught so many passes that Nelson said: “We give him a hard time that he seems like the only one out there practicing right now.”
That hasn’t changed.
“It seems like every day we step out on the practice field, he makes a play,” offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said.
Aaron Rodgers has noticed the same thing. The quarterback offered unprompted praise for McCaffrey this week when he said: “Max [has] been making a lot of plays in training camp, every day in practice he’s making plays, made some nice catches in the game.”
McCaffrey had three catches for 60 yards in last week’s preseason opener. That included a 34-yarder on a deep ball from a scrambling Joe Callahan in the fourth quarter.
It’s not out of the question that the Packers could keep seven receivers on their opening-day roster for the second straight year, but even if they do, McCaffrey has some tough competition. Behind the top three of Nelson, Adams and Randall Cobb are Allison (although he will miss the first game of the season due to a suspension), Jeff Janis, rookie draft picks Malachi Dupre and DeAngelo Yancey (although both are currently out with injuries) and even undrafted rookie Michael Clark, the 6-foot-6 former basketball player who has made some eye-catching grabs in practice.
For now, McCaffrey just plans to make as many plays as possible and text Adams for as much help as he can get.
“I ask ‘Tae’ for any advice; obviously a receiver like him who’s been around and knows the game pretty well, it’s always good to get some advice from those older guys,” McCaffrey said. “I remember asking him specifically for a certain in-step tape, and he sent me some over this last break, so he’s been very helpful. Cobb, Jordy, everyone here has been extremely helpful.”