Christian McCaffrey is practicing with the Panthers after popping up on the injury report – bringing some clarity after the star running back kept the team “guessing” over the past two days.
McCaffrey logged two consecutive DNPs on Wednesday and Thursday with a thigh injury, but McCaffrey was spotted at practice Friday morning, and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
There was palpable concern leading into the weekend about his status, which was perhaps exaggerated by some cagey quotes from other notable Panthers figures. When pressed by reporters about McCaffrey’s status Thursday, Carolina offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo declined comment – but quarterback Baker Mayfield did not.
“He’s gone zero dark thirty on us, ya know?” Mayfield said. “Just keeping us guessing.”
In response to a question as to whether or not Mayfield knew if he would play on Sunday, Mayfield said, “Nah.”
It seems now, though, McCaffrey is trending in the right direction.
McCaffrey has only played ten games between 2020 and 2021 while dealing with a variety of ailments. McCaffrey has made it through all three games this season and is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, but the quad injury popped up on the Wednesday injury report and he did not practice in the two days after.
The 26-year-old is sorely needed for the Panthers’ offense, which has struggled under Mayfield in his three games as the starting quarterback. Mayfield is 29th in the NFL in passing yards and 25th in passer rating, as Carolina has gotten off to a middling 1-2 start.
McCaffrey hasn’t gotten off to the otherworldly start some expected, but he has still accounted for 36 percent of the Panthers’ total yards through three games.