The Carolina Panthers shut out the Detroit Lions in Week 11 without two of their most important players in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Christian McCaffrey. This Sunday, when they visit the Minnesota Vikings, they're expected to have one half of the starting duo back in action. Panthers coach Matt Rhule told reporters Wednesday that McCaffrey, who's recovering from a shoulder injury, is unlikely to play despite returning to practice; but that Bridgewater, who suffered a knee injury in Week 10, is expected to reclaim his starting job under center.
McCaffrey, who's missed all but three games in 2020, has not played since the Panthers' Week 9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs -- his first game back from a high-ankle sprain. According to ESPN's David Newton, Carolina is hoping to get the star ball-carrier back after the team's Week 13 bye, but even that isn't a guarantee. In the meantime, veteran reserve Mike Davis, who's seen a heavy workload in McCaffrey's absence, will remain in the starting lineup as the clear-cut RB1.
At quarterback, Bridgewater is now in line to start against the team that made him a first-round draft pick back in 2014. The veteran did not suffer any structural damage to his knee upon going down in Carolina's Week 10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he sat out Week 11 after limited participation in practice leading up to the Lions game, with former XFL standout P.J. Walker filling in as the starter. Bridgewater this year has matched his production as a 2019 replacement starter for the New Orleans Saints, throwing 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first full-time starting gig since his time with the Vikings.