Charlotte, North Carolina – Returning Carolina Panthers Christian McCaffrey will not get a return in the best of times from a sprained ankle, a league source told ESPN.
The Panthers (3-4) decided not to activate McCaffrey for the national television game on Thursday night against the Atlanta Sokols (1-6), which means that his likely return will be next week against the bosses of Kansas City.
McCaffrey returned to practice on Monday and received a device on Tuesday to return from injury. But because it was a short week and McCaffrey failed to go through a full workout, the team chose to be extra careful.
The NFL Network first announced Thursday that McCaffrey is not expected to play against Atlanta.
McCaffrey suffered an injury during a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay that dropped the Panthers to 0-2. They came out 3-2 without the best paid back in the league, thanks in large part to midfielder Mike Davis.
Davis averaged more than 1
Where McCaffrey may have helped the most is the running game in the red zone, where Carolina ranks 27th in the NFL in terms of touchdown. He scored four quick touchdowns in the first two games. Davis had only two of five games.
Coach Matt Roulette blamed much of Carolina’s trouble in the red zone for the lack of a working game in the 20s.
When asked earlier in the week if McCaffrey would return this week or next, Rule said, “It won’t be a minute too early.”