The door is now open for Christian McCaffrey to make his way back to the Panthers. The All-Pro running back is now eligible to be activated off of injured reserve after missing the previous three weeks due to a high ankle sprain he suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. While McCaffrey may be able to come off IR, the Panthers don't necessarily have to activate him just yet if he still needs some more time to recover.
"Once the doctors say he's clear and he feels like he's clear, we'll activate him," head coach Matt Rhule told reporters Monday of a looming McCaffrey return, via the Charlotte Observer. "But I'm not sure when that will be."
Rhule also stated that McCaffrey will undergo a series of tests on Monday to evaluate his progress from that ankle injury. He declined to speculate if the 24-year-old would be ready to go for Carolina's Week 6 matchup with the Chicago Bears. At the time of McCaffrey's diagnosis coming down, his injury was said to sideline him from anywhere between four-to-six weeks. If that timeline holds, it may be more realistic to see McCaffrey return to action in Week 7, when the Panthers visit the Saints. That would mark four weeks from when he originally suffered the injury.
Of course, the Panthers will be eager to have their stud running back in the fold whenever he is ready to come off IR, but the team has gone 3-0 in his absence and fellow running back Mike Davis has played extremely well after stepping into the starting role. Over his last three games, Davis has totaled 219 rushing yards on 4.87 yards per carry to go along with 22 receptions for 132 yards, and three total touchdowns.