Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey, whose career has been plagued by injury, is unlikely to play in the preseason, head coach Matt Rhule told reporters Tuesday. McCaffrey got hurt in a preseason game previously, and the team is looking to ensure that does not happen again.

Rhule said the preseason will not be the only change the team makes when it comes to CMC next season. The Panthers plan to take precautions during practices, as well, to help keep the 25-year-old healthy.

McCaffrey played only 10 games in the last two regular seasons combined due to injury. When McCaffrey is healthy, he is one of the best at his position, but as of late he has been unable to last an entire season without being sidelined. 

The running back had back-to-back 1,000 yards seasons in 2018 and 2019, before injuries took over the storyline.

In 2020, McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain and missed six games, before injuring his shoulder and missing four games, then injuring his thigh and missing four games. In 2021, he had a thigh hamstring strain and missed five games before rolling his ankle in November and was out for the rest of the season.

Last season, the Panthers started strong, but ended up finishing with a 5-12 record.

Rhule is not off to the best start in Carolina (10-23 in two seasons as head coach) and needs to turn the team around in 2022. McCaffrey playing for an entire season would be a major difference maker.