The Carolina Panthers lost star running back Christian McCaffrey in the first half of their "Thursday Night Football" win over the Houston Texans. Following the game, head coach Matt Rhule said that McCaffrey "strained" his hamstring, and that they do not know the severity of the injury just yet. Rhule also said that he spoke with McCaffrey in the locker room, and that he was moving around.
Early in the second quarter, NFL Network sideline reporter Erin Andrews reported that McCaffrey had been ruled out for the rest of the game with a hamstring injury. The last play the All-Pro running back took part in was a first-and-10 from the Texans' 14-yard line, where he rushed left for 2 yards. Chuba Hubbard immediately took over as the lead back, and was the focal point in the run game moving forward. McCaffrey spent a considerable amount of time in the blue medical tent when he left the game, but then walked to the locker room with trainers. He walked slowly, but without any assistance.
McCaffrey played in just three games last year, as ankle and shoulder injuries held him back. It was really the first time injuries had hampered him in his career, but it appeared he was back to his old ways through the first two games of the 2021 season. Against the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, McCaffrey racked up 324 yards from scrimmage on 59 touches and scored one touchdown.
While we don't know how serious the hamstring injury is just yet, it's worrisome that he was ruled out so quickly. McCaffrey is obviously the engine that makes this Panthers offense go, as the versatile weapon out of Stanford holds the NFL record for most receptions recorded by a running back in a single season. Apart from Hubbard, Carolina also has veteran Royce Freeman to help out on the ground.
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