After missing all but three games last season, the former Stanford Cardinal is back to being one of the NFL’s elite dual-threat backs.
McCaffrey had 98 rushing and 89 receiving yards in their season opener against the New York Jets.
He scored his first touchdown of the season a week later and finished with 137 total yards.
The second-generation NFL player is a massive contributor to the Panthers’ early success.
here's christian mccaffrey doing something cool pic.twitter.com/4RJF8LdEns
— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) September 23, 2021
His versatility helped Sam Darnold become more comfortable with coordinator Joe Brady’s offensive system.
Unfortunately, the Panthers are experiencing deja vu after McCaffrey abruptly exited their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Texans.
He suffered a hamstring injury with 12:13 remaining in the second quarter and immediately went to the team’s medical tent after the play.
It was evident that McCaffrey favored his left hamstring while executing a play, causing him to impede his running motion.
The injury caused him to go out of bounds to avoid further injuries.
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiTV) September 24, 2021
The Panthers are hoping that the injury will not cause him to miss games.
Having him miss the majority of another season is the last thing they need, especially now that they are on a roll
In 2020, McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain injury in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
He did not return to that game and was on injured reserve until Week 8.
In Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs, he suited up and finished with 151 total yards and a touchdown.
Live look at Christian McCaffrey managers pic.twitter.com/Yz5qZIJQGK
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 24, 2021
However, McCaffrey suffered a shoulder injury that ruled him out for the season.
Fast forward to 2021, and the Panthers are looking at the possibility of him missing some games again.
Implications On The Panthers Offense
McCaffrey was on pace to have another year of 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards.
However, his recent injury makes him questionable in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys or possibly beyond because it’s hard to set a definite timetable for hamstring recovery.
The short turnaround between Weeks 2 and 3 may be the culprit to his recent injury.
But having a nine-day break before that showdown may help McCaffrey recover.
The Panthers will limit McCaffrey’s participation during practices, giving Chuba Hubbard more snaps with the starters.
Fantasy managers going to pick up Chuba Hubbard. pic.twitter.com/fpQbabwTo5
— M.G. (@MarcasG) September 24, 2021
The rookie from Oklahoma State did a solid job in filling in for McCaffrey, finishing with 52 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Meanwhile, McCaffrey exited the match with seven carries for 31 yards and two receptions for nine yards.
Losing McCaffrey for a few games will change the Panthers’ dynamic because he’s their biggest threat on every play.
Likewise, he effectively picks up the blitz, which gives Darnold more time to throw downfield to their receivers.
On the other hand, credit also goes to the Panthers defense for limiting their opponents to 10 points per game.
Haason Reddick putting on the pressure!
📺: NFL Network pic.twitter.com/cve6QBGx3G
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 24, 2021
They lead the league with 14 sacks and allow just 191 total yards per game.
However, Jaycee Horn‘s injury may raise some concern about their pass defense.
With their road to 4-0 facing colossal uncertainty, the Panthers hope that the next man up will rise to the occasion.