Christian McCaffrey

Carolina Panthers
Running Back #22
Carolina Panthers
Running Back #22
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Christian McCaffrey News

Shifts to IR

McCaffrey (hamstring) was placed on injured reserve Saturday.

Analysis: In hindsight, it's hard not to view last week's injury designation as a troubling omen. McCaffrey reportedly made it through Friday's Week 5 practice without any setbacks only to mysteriously be listed as doubtful for the aforementioned contest, ultimately missing last week's loss to the Eagles. Coach Matt Rhule seemed to have some optimism his star back would be available this week against the Vikings, only to see those hopes essentially dashed by back-to-back practice DNPs. While this latest development is obviously crushing for fantasy managers, it does take a bit of the guess work out of McCaffrey's health status and ensures the multi-talented threat will have plenty of time to rehab what's obviously a lingering hamstring issue. McCaffrey will be eligible to make a return Week 9 against the Patriots, but until then expect Chuba Hubbard to continue operating as the lead back.

Oct 16, 2021 10:28 AM EST

Ruled out

McCaffrey (hamstring) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Vikings, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Coach Matt Rhule called his star running back "50/50" as recently as Wednesday, but McCaffrey then missed practice Thursday and Friday, leading up to what will be a third consecutive game absence. Chuba Hubbard will fill in as Carolina's lead runner again, while McCaffrey hopes to make it back for Week 7 at the Giants. For what it's worth, Rhule said he doesn't characterize this as a setback, noting that McCaffrey simply wasn't ready when he tested his hamstring at Wednesday's practice, per Joe Person of The Athletic. That said, there's nothing to suggest progress, with McCaffrey managing just one limited practice and an 'out' designation this week, after three limited practices and a 'doubtful' designation last week.

Oct 15, 2021 11:11 AM EST

Not practicing

McCaffrey (hamstring) isn't participating at the start of Friday's practice and thus appears unlikely to play in Sunday's game against the Vikings, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: He was a limited participant all last week and again this Wednesday, before downgrading to DNP on Thursday and possibly now Friday. It points to a likely third straight absence for the star running back, though coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday that McCaffrey appeared 50/50 for a return this week. Joe Person of The Athletic did see McCaffrey getting off a golf cart and heading to an indoor field, which suggests he's at least doing some form of stretching/conditioning/running. If he misses another game, Chuba Hubbard will fill in as the lead runner again.

Oct 15, 2021 9:38 AM EST

No participation at practice

McCaffrey (hamstring) was a officially a non-participant at practice Thursday, Darin Gantt of the Panthers' official site reports.

Analysis: McCaffrey wasn't on the field Thursday for the portion of the practice that was open to the media, and he apparently didn't fit in any work behind the scenes either. The lack of activity one day after he practiced on a limited basis is a discouraging sign for McCaffrey's chances of putting an end to a two-game absence Sunday against the Vikings, though the Panthers will wait and see what the running back can do at Friday's session before deciding on his status. On Wednesday, head coach Matt Rhule labeled McCaffrey as "50-50" for Sunday's contest, but the 25-year-old's odds may have taken a hit after his absence from practice. If McCaffrey misses another contest, rookie Chuba Hubbard would be in store for his third straight turn as Carolina's lead back.

Oct 14, 2021 12:51 PM EST

Not seen at practice Thursday

McCaffrey (hamstring) wasn't present at the part of Thursday's practice open to the media, Darin Gantt of the Panthers' official site reports.

Analysis: On the heels of four consecutive limited practices, McCaffrey appeared to be progressing in the right direction as of Wednesday's session. Afterward, coach Matt Rhule called McCaffrey's odds to return this Sunday from a strained hamstring "50-50," per David Newton of There's still a chance McCaffrey gets on the practice field after the media are ushered out, but his activity level on Thursday's injury report now bears watching to see if those odds may have dipped.

Oct 14, 2021 10:45 AM EST

Considered 50-50 for Sunday

Coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday that McCaffrey is "probably 50-50" to play in Sunday's game against Minnesota, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: Rhule made his comments following a limited practice from McCaffrey, who previously logged limited sessions Wednesday through Friday of last week. He was then listed as doubtful on the final injury report and ended up missing a second straight game. While McCaffrey hopes to avoid making it three in a row, Rhule did acknowledge that his star running back is likely to be a game-time decision ahead of the 1:00 ET kickoff this Sunday.

Oct 13, 2021 12:54 PM EST

To be limited Wednesday

McCaffrey (hamstring) will be a limited practice participant Wednesday, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: McCaffrey was limited all of last week, too, before receiving a doubtful designation and eventually being inactive this past Sunday against the Eagles. On this occasion, though, coach Matt Rhule is hopeful that McCaffrey will do enough this week to play for the first time since Week 3, according to Darin Gantt of the Panthers' official site. One positive sign is the fact McCaffrey is practicing in full gear Wednesday, per Newton, but he'll have to more sessions to put himself into a position to suit up Sunday versus the Vikings.

Oct 13, 2021 10:39 AM EST

Could return Week 6

Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he's hopeful that McCaffrey (hamstring) will be able to return for Sunday's game against the Vikings, Darin Gantt of the Panthers' official site reports.

Analysis: McCaffrey missed a second straight game in Sunday's loss to the Eagles despite practicing in a limited capacity last week. Rhule said that he'll have a better idea of the 25-year-old's status based on his participation in Wednesday's practice, but it seems as though the running back has a good chance to return to game action against Minnesota.

Oct 11, 2021 9:21 AM EST

Won't play Week 5

McCaffrey (hamstring) is inactive for Sunday's game against the Eagles, Darin Gantt of the Panthers' official site reports.

Analysis: Though he practiced in a limited capacity all week, McCaffrey took a doubtful designation into Sunday and will ultimately miss a second straight game. Even so, McCaffrey's ability to practice in any capacity this week -- as well as the Panthers' decision not to place him on injured reserve -- hints that the star tailback may be ready to go for the Week 6 game versus Minnesota. While McCaffrey is idle against the Eagles, however, rookie Chuba Hubbard is expected to serve as Carolina's lead back, with Rodney Smith likely serving as the top option on obvious passing downs.

Oct 10, 2021 8:38 AM EST

Listed as doubtful

McCaffrey (hamstring) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against the Eagles, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: This comes as somewhat of a surprise after McCaffrey made optimistic comments Thursday afternoon and then reportedly made it through Friday's practice without setbacks. None of that has been contradicted, but it is possible the Panthers never truly had Week 5 in mind for a return, preferring to play it safe even if McCaffrey shows good progress on the practice field. While coach Matt Rhule did leave the door open for McCaffrey's status to change before Sunday, it now seems more likely than not that Chuba Hubbard will get another start. Hubbard shared snaps with Rodney Smith and Royce Freeman in last week's loss to Dallas, with the rookie accounting for only 47 percent of the playing time but 13 of the 16 RB carries.

Oct 8, 2021 10:48 AM EST

Looking good for Sunday

McCaffrey (hamstring) made it through Friday's practice without any setbacks, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: He'll likely be listed as questionable on the final injury report, but Newton suggests the running back is on track to play. McCaffrey missed last week's loss to Dallas, in which Chuba Hubbard took 13 of Carolina's 16 RB carries despite playing only 47 percent of snaps (Royce Freeman and Rodney Smith also got work). Should McCaffrey return for Sunday's game against the Eagles, there's no assurance he'll immediately return to his every-down role, but he'd still figure to be reasonably productive without the full snap workload.

Oct 8, 2021 9:45 AM EST

Puts in another limited practice

McCaffrey (hamstring) practiced in a limited fashion Thursday and said afterward that he feels great and "definitely" has a chance to play Sunday against the Eagles, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: For the second straight day, McCaffrey turned in a limited showing in practice, with Schuyler Callihan of noting that the running back ditched his red no-contact jersey in the portion of Thursday's session that was open to the media. Though initial reports suggested McCaffrey would miss at least two weeks due to his hamstring injury, he's making a strong push to re-enter the lineup Sunday after sitting out just one game. Unless McCaffrey upgrades to full participation Friday, he's still a good bet to carry a questionable designation into the weekend, which could result in him being a game-time call ahead of Sunday's 1 p.m. ET kickoff. Chuba Hubbard started in McCaffrey's place Week 4 and would be in store for another enhanced role Week 5 if the Panthers decide to play it safe with their top back and hold him out for another contest.

Oct 7, 2021 12:46 PM EST

Headed for game-time call?

Coach Matt Rhule said McCaffrey (calf) "looked real good" in his return to practice Wednesday, potentially setting up a game-time decision this weekend, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: It's a little early in the week to know that a player will be a game-time decision, but it's at least fair to say McCaffrey appears truly questionable for Sunday against the Eagles. He returned to practice Wednesday afternoon as a limited participant, after missing every session last week prior to being ruled out for Sunday's loss to Dallas. Chuba Hubbard got the start and took 15 touches for 71 yards, but he ended up playing only 47 percent of snaps, as practice squad call-up Rodney Smith got a lot of the work in obvious passing situations with Carolina chasing a deficit late in the game.

Oct 6, 2021 12:48 PM EST

Returns as limited participant

McCaffrey (hamstring) rejoined practice Wednesday as a limited participant, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that McCaffrey would attempt to practice Wednesday. The running back apparently was able to do so, though it isn't clear to what extent, apart from the official 'LP' designation. For the time being, it's best to view McCaffrey as uncertain for Sunday's game against Philadelphia, with Chuba Hubbard next in line to start at running back. Hubbard took 15 touches for 71 yards in the Week 4 loss at Dallas, playing 47 percent of offensive snaps.

Oct 6, 2021 12:34 PM EST

Will test hamstring Wednesday

Head coach Matt Rhule said McCaffrey (hamstring) will attempt to practice Wednesday as the Panthers look to "see where he is football-wise," Joe Person of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Rhule noted that it's too early to know if McCaffrey will be ready to return from a one-game absence to play Sunday versus the Eagles, but the fact that the running back will attempt to get on the field in some capacity to begin Week 5 prep would seem to suggest that he's recovering well from the hamstring strain he sustained Sept. 23 against the Texans. While McCaffrey was sidelined this past weekend against the Cowboys, rookie Chuba Hubbard served as Carolina's lead back, playing a position-high 33 of the Panthers' 70 offensive snaps (47 percent) and carrying 13 times for 57 yards to go with two receptions for 14 yards on two targets. Given that prior reports suggested McCaffrey would likely miss multiple games due to the injury, the expectation remains that Hubbard will be in line for another start Sunday unless McCaffrey proves healthier than anticipated in practices over the next few days.

Oct 4, 2021 12:13 PM EST

Likely out until Week 6

McCaffrey (hamstring) took part in a pregame stretching prior to Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, but he appears unlikely to play Week 5 against the Eagles and is more realistically targeting a return to the lineup Week 6 versus the Vikings, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: Beyond ruling out McCaffrey ahead of the Week 4 contest and stating that the running back wasn't going to go on injured reserve, head coach Matt Rhule hasn't commented on McCaffrey's availability moving forward. However, when McCaffrey initially strained his hamstring in the Sept. 23 win over the Texans, Rhule suggested the star back would be out for "a few weeks," so the prevailing thought is that he'll be sidelined for a second straight contest next weekend. The Panthers could formally rule McCaffrey out for Week 5 when they reconvene for practice Wednesday.

Oct 4, 2021 10:24 AM EST

Won't go on IR

Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that McCaffrey (hamstring) won't be placed on injured reserve, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports.

Analysis: McCaffrey left Thursday's win over the Texans with a hamstring injury, and Rhule said last week that he expects the 25-year-old to miss a few weeks. However, the Panthers are optimistic that the running back will be back in action within three weeks since he isn't expected to require an IR designation. Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman should lead the rushing attack while McCaffrey is sidelined.

Sep 27, 2021 10:47 AM EST

Out for next few weeks

Coach Matt Rhule said Friday that McCaffrey will be out for "a few weeks" with a hamstring strain, Kristen Balboni of the Panthers' official site reports.

Analysis: Rhule couldn't offer a more precise timeline but did acknowledge that McCaffrey will miss at least one game (and quite possibly more). Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggests the Panthers are in no rush to place their star running back on injured reserve -- a move that would rule him out for the next three games. That doesn't necessarily mean McCaffrey will be back before then, but it does show the team has some hope. Chuba Hubbard took the lead after McCaffrey's early exit from Thursday's 24-9 win over Houston, with the rookie gaining 79 yards on 14 touches while Royce Freeman managed 25 yards on six.

Sep 24, 2021 12:14 PM EST

Likely out a few weeks

McCaffrey (hamstring) is expected to miss a few weeks but won't be placed on injured reserve for now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Getting injured on a Thursday rather than Sunday might work in his favor, but the star running back still appears likely to miss Week 4 against the Cowboys. McCaffrey was injured during the first half of Thursday's 24-9 win over the Texans, giving way to Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman in the Carolina backfield. Hubbard led the way with 16 touches for 79 yards, and he'll likely be the starter for at least the next week or two.

Sep 24, 2021 9:48 AM EST

Will undergo MRI

Head coach Matt Rhule said that McCaffrey will undergo an MRI on his hamstring following Thursday's 24-9 win over the Texans, James Palmer of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Rhule didn't have provide an estimate on the severity of McCaffrey's injury, as he'll defer until the MRI results are available. The Panthers have 10 days until their Week 4 clash against the Cowboys. Their offense takes a significant hit when McCaffrey is off the field, but rookie Chuba Hubbard and Royce Freeman will attempt to fill the void if he's forced to miss time.

Sep 23, 2021 8:31 PM EST

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