Realistic Timeline for Return of Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey

Schuyler Callihan

The Carolina Panthers have now played four games without star running back Christian McCaffrey and have went 3-1 in those four contests with the only loss coming this past weekend to the Chicago Bears.

Carolina has done more than kept their head above water without their best player and getting him back could help keep this team in the playoff hunt as we get deeper into the regular season.

On Monday, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule gave an update on McCaffrey and said that he was unsure if he would be activated for this week's game vs New Orleans.

"He was coming into the building today. We had to go test today and I saw him and he looks good. I'm not sure if it's this week, next week, or the week after, I'm not exactly sure where it is but I know that's part of the rehab process. But I'm hopeful we get him back soon, I'd love to have hime but whether it's this week or not, I'm not sure yet."

That, however, was followed up by Rhule on Wednesday saying, "I don't anticipate him playing this week." Looking ahead at Carolina's schedule, this may not be the best time to bring McCaffrey back even if he's at 80%. The Panthers will be playing two games in five days by playing in New Orleans on Sunday and then returning home for a quick turnaround Thursday night home game vs Atlanta. 

Although McCaffrey could return for next Thursday's game vs the Falcons, they could give him that entire week to get reacclimated and back into game shape for the big challenge that awaits against the Kansas City Chiefs the following week. Either way, it looks like the earliest we could see him back in action for the Panthers will be next Thursday as it appears that this week is out of the picture.

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