The star running back is dealing with a hamstring injury, according to the team. McCaffrey bounced on and off the field for much of the first quarter-plus, and he remained in the medical tent for some time after exiting during the second quarter.
Following a historic 2019 campaign in which McCaffrey finished with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns, the running back was limited to only three games in 2020 after suffering a shoulder injury. He looked fully recovered through the first two weeks of the 2021 season, collecting 324 yards from scrimmage on 59 carries. The 25-year-old had another 40 all-purpose yards on nine touches before leaving the “Thursday Night Football” game.
McCaffrey‘s absence ended up being inconsequential during Thursday’s game against the lowly Texans. The Panthers went on to win 24-9. However, it will be tough for the surprising Panthers to overcome a long-term McCaffrey absence.
After the game, head coach Matt Rhule told reporters he didn’t know the extent of McCaffrey’s injury, according to The Athletic’s Joe Person, and that the All-Pro running back will be getting an MRI. Person also noted quarterback Sam Darnold believes McCaffrey will be back this season, but the signal-caller added that is just him being optimistic.
Chuba Hubbard is next in line for carries, but the rookie fourth-round pick has seen time on only 26 offensive snaps through two weeks. The team is also rostering Royce Freeman on the active roster, and it could turn to practice-squad backs Rodney Smith or Spencer Brown.
The Panthers also lost cornerback Jaycee Horn to a broken foot.