Christian McCaffrey is back on the injury report, but Panthers fans shouldn't panic just yet. Coming off two straight injury-shortened seasons, the star running back was listed with a shin issue Thursday, but he remained a full participant in practice. Coach Matt Rhule clarified afterward that McCaffrey's leg was simply cut by a cleat during practice, and that he has no concerns about the former Pro Bowler's availability for Sunday's Week 1 game against the Browns.
Any McCaffrey news on the injury front is bound to raise eyebrows, however, considering the former All-Pro has played just 10 games over the last two seasons. After playing all 16 games in each of his first three NFL seasons, the former first-round draft pick battled multiple ankle and hamstring injuries starting in 2020, totaling under 700 rushing yards since a career performance in 2019.
The Panthers are banking on the running back returning to form in 2022, when he figures to serve as a primary outlet for new quarterback Baker Mayfield. While the team added former Titans backup D'Onta Foreman as insurance behind primary No. 2 Chuba Hubbard, it's also paying McCaffrey nearly $8.8 million this year, more than all but four running backs in the NFL.
When healthy, McCaffrey has been one of the top all-purpose weapons in the league, eclipsing 1,000 yards as both a runner and receiver in 2019. He also logged at least 80 catches in each of his first three seasons.