The Carolina Panthers are expected to be without star running back Christian McCaffrey for "a few weeks," head coach Matt Rhule said on Friday. The team is continuing to run tests on his hamstring, and Rapoport reports that injured reserve is not the plan as of now.
McCaffrey injured his hamstring in the second quarter of Thursday night's matchup against the Houston Texans, and was quickly ruled out. He spent a considerable amount of time in the blue medical tent after exiting the game, and then walked to the locker room with trainers.
Following the game, Rhule told reporters that McCaffrey had strained his hamstring, but that he did not know the severity of the injury. Rookie Chuba Hubbard took over the run game when McCaffrey exited, and rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 27 yards. Carolina also has veteran Royce Freeman at running back, and he took five carries for 17 yards on Thursday night. After the game, Rhule was asked what he's looking for out of those two players if McCaffrey was to miss time.
"Yeah, I think they just have to be starting NFL running backs, and Royce has done that before," Rhule said, via Pro Football Talk. "I told Chuba at halftime, 'That's why we drafted you, man.' I thought Chuba was outstanding. At the end of the half, we didn't give him a ton of chances, but I thought he got in there at the end and made some key runs. When we can line up in four-minute offense and run and get the first down on two plays, especially versus that stout defense, that's a credit to the offensive line, credit to the tight ends and full backs. I thought those backs hit it, and the minute Royce got in he made that nice run, cut the ball back on a dual play, which that's a veteran-run. That's a guy that's played a bunch and saw it. Those guys stepped up for us."
McCaffrey missed a total of 13 games last season due to ankle and shoulder ailments. He wasn't a player that had dealt with many injuries before, so having to sit out to recover was a tough ask for the All-Pro back.
"I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about resiliency and about just continuing to move forward," McCaffrey told CBS Sports about the 2020 season. "You can feel like the world's on your shoulders at times like that. But you know ... I'm in this game for the long haul, I'm gonna play for a very long time and it's just part of the journey. I think the biggest thing I can do is learn from everything that happened and grow and get better."
It appeared that McCaffrey had fully recovered in the offseason and was back to being the bell cow for the Panthers, as he recorded 324 scrimmage yards on 59 touches and scored one touchdown in the first two games of the season. Now, he's faced with another comeback.