Source – Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey will not play against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday


CHARLOTTE, NC – Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey will not get a prime-time return after a sprained ankle, a league source confirmed to ESPN.The Panthers (3-4) have decided not to activate McCaffrey for Thursday night’s national televised game against the Atlanta Falcons (1-6), meaning his likely return will come next week against the Chiefs of Kansas City.

McCaffrey returned to training on Monday and on Tuesday received the designation to return from the injured reserve. But since it was a short week and McCaffrey couldn’t get a full practice, the team chose to be cautious.

NFL Network first reported Thursday that McCaffrey is not expected to play against Atlanta.

McCaffrey suffered the injury in a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay that sent the Panthers down to 0-2. They went 3-2 without the league’s highest-paid refund, thanks in large part to journeyman Mike Davis.

Davis averaged more than 100 scrimmage yards in his first four games before being held to 12 rushing and 24 receiving yards in Sunday’s 27-24 loss to New Orleans.

Where McCaffrey could have helped the most is running play in the red zone, where Carolina ranks 27th in the NFL in touchdown percentage. He scored four rushing touchdowns in the first two games. Davis has only had two games in five games.

Coach Matt Rhule blamed Carolina’s red zone problems largely on the lack of a running game inside the 20.

When asked earlier in the week if McCaffrey would be back this week or next, Rhule replied, “It won’t be a minute too soon. “


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