He is currently out with a hamstring injury suffered on a Thursday night game in Week 3.
The Panthers did win the game to improve to 3-0, but are sitting at 3-2 heading into Week 6.
While Sam Darnold is starting to take some blame, both losses have come by single-digit margins.
But no matter how well Darnold plays, the Panthers need McCaffrey to seriously chase a playoff berth.
At one point it seemed like he might suit up in Week 5.
He was ruled out late and the focus turns to Week 6.
For now, the Panthers still don’t have a clear answer.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule is "hopeful'' running back Christian McCaffrey returns this week. Will know more Wednesday.
— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) October 11, 2021
Being hopeful is better than being doubtful, but it looks like it is going to take a few days for any clarity on McCaffrey.
Seeking Past Results
McCaffrey led the league in scrimmage yards in 2019 with 2,392.
He went over 1,000 in both rushing and receiving and made himself the easy choice atop any fantasy football draft.
Then came 2020 when injuries limited him to three games.
The back is at the same total so far in 2021, however, this hamstring issue will hopefully clear up with time and rest.
It is easy to label McCaffrey as injury-prone, yet he did not miss a game throughout his first three NFL seasons.
He only made his debut back in 2017 and is still a young player.
Panthers fans are just hoping he doesn’t go the route of other runners who faded fast with time.
Keeping Pace In The NFC South
The Panthers are now 3-2, which puts them in a tie for second in the NFC South with the New Orleans Saints.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are atop the division at 4-1 and the Atlanta Falcons are slowly creeping out of the basement at 2-3.
This is a deep division and the Panthers want to avoid fading too fast before getting into the meat of the divisional slate of games.
Without Christian McCaffery, Sam Darnold, is playing like Sam Darnold. Rooting for him but he looks exactly the same even with better talent.
— Jake Asman (@JakeAsman) October 11, 2021
They already own a win over the Saints this year, which was a game that involved a healthy McCaffrey.
Everyone is now in a wait-and-see approach with the running back.
With such an injury, that is all anyone can do.