Christian McCaffrey may be set to return after his latest lengthy absence. The All-Pro back is off the Panthers’ IR list and back on the team’s active roster.
It is not yet certain McCaffrey will be in uniform against the Patriots, with a pregame workout set to determine his status, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. But Carolina activating McCaffrey is obviously a good indicator of his status for Sunday’s game. The Panthers still had more than two weeks to bump CMC back to their active roster, having only designated him to return from IR on Wednesday.
The Panthers’ offense has largely struggled without its top player. After a 3-0 start with McCaffrey in uniform, the Panthers have lost four of their past five games since he went down in Week 3 with a hamstring injury. Carolina enters Week 9 26th in scoring, with Sam Darnold having taken significant steps back after a hot start.
McCaffrey has certainly struggled to stay on the field since signing his $16MM-per-year extension in 2020. A high ankle sprain limited the dual-threat dynamo to three games last season, and this hamstring ailment cost him five thus far this year. When last healthy over a full season, McCaffrey made a push for Chris Johnson‘s scrimmage yards record in 2019. He totaled 2,392 en route to his monster contract. This Panthers iteration stands to receive a major boost once the fifth-year star returns.
Regarding Darnold, the Panthers announced Saturday he cleared concussion protocol. Although that bodes well for his Week 9 status, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero tweets Darnold remains a game-time decision due to the shoulder injury he also suffered against the Falcons. P.J. Walker has replaced Darnold in each of the Panthers’ past two games. The ex-XFL standout would get the call if the Panthers deemed Darnold a no-go.
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