Christian McCaffrey‘s 2020 season has gotten off to a rocky start after suffering the first significant injury of his NFL career. McCaffrey has sat out the last several weeks, putting the Carolina Panthers in a tough spot without their best offensive talent. However, the Panthers may finally know when McCaffrey will be back in the mix.
Panthers’ rollercoaster start to the 2020 season
The Panthers entered the 2020 season hoping to make a strong push toward the playoffs.
Instead, Carolina has experienced some expected growing pains under first-year head coach Matt Rhule. These issues compounded early on with a significant loss as star running back Christian McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McCaffrey has been the backbone of the Panthers’ offensive game plan behind his elite level of production. Over the last couple of years, he has established himself as arguably the best all-around running back behind his dual-threat ability.
His absence has led to Teddy Bridgewater experiencing ups and downs in his first year in Carolina. Bridgewater ranks seventh with 1,676 passing yards along with throwing six touchdown passes to five interceptions while holding a 94.6 passer rating.
The Panthers managed to put together a three-game winning streak, which saw Bridgewater gather more footing in Rhule’s offensive system. However, he’s coming off throwing a pair of interceptions and sacked four times in the loss to the Chicago Bears. All that has put the Panthers just a game out of first place in the NFC South heading into Week 7 action.
Things have taken another step forward for Carolina after some encouraging news regarding their franchise cornerstone’s health.
Panthers may have circled Christian McCaffrey’s return date
The Panthers have continued to take the precautionary approach with their star running back over the last several weeks.
However, Christian McCaffrey is nearing the middle of his estimated recovery timeframe of four-to-six weeks, which has put forth a possible return date. According to Tom Pelissero of The NFL Network, the Panthers may be eyeing a Week 8 return on Thursday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons.
Carolina is in no rush to put McCaffrey back on the field before he’s physically ready to play. The All-Pro running back also hasn’t experienced any setbacks in his recovery process from the ankle injury. McCaffrey is a significant factor in the Panthers’ offensive game plan, which further underlines the need to have him at full strength when he comes back.
The proposed return date also isn’t set in stone, but it’s quite clear that the Pro Bowler is nearing his long-awaited return.
Mike Davis will continue to handle starting role
Christian McCaffrey’s absence from the offense presents some significant shoes to fill for the Panthers.
Mike Davis has put forth an admiral performance in McCaffrey’s place as he has produced at a high level in the starting role. Davis has racked up more than 100 total scrimmage yards twice while scoring four total touchdowns in the last four games.
He has brought much-needed stability to the offense while proving to be a versatile option out of the backfield. Davis has tallied 272 rushing yards with two touchdowns and 32 receptions on 36 targets for 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His production isn’t near McCaffrey’s level, but he has become another offensive weapon for the Panthers.
Davis will continue to handle the primary back duties while their Pro Bowler is on the mend. The veteran running back will have the opportunity to put forth another strong performance or two in the extended role.