TAMPA, Fla. — The Panthers on Wednesday placed running back Christian McCaffrey on the reserve/injured list.
McCaffrey’s high ankle sprain was expected to keep him out for several games, and now he will be sidelined for at least three.
In 2020, teams can have a player return from injured reserve after spending only three games on the list. That would make McCaffrey eligible to return, at the earliest, for the Panthers' Oct. 18 matchup against the Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium.
Though McCaffrey was told the injury would force him to miss four to six weeks, he’d like to be back sooner, according to the team. Through two games, he’s recorded four touchdowns and 223 yards from scrimmage.
Mike Davis will start in McCaffrey’s place when the Panthers travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers in Week 3.
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey will miss several weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Buccaneers, head coach Matt Rhule announced on Monday.
“I hate it for him," Rhule said. "No one wants to be out there and play more than Christian does, but everything happens for a reason. I’m sure he’ll rehab. I’m sure he’s rehabbing right now. I talked to him earlier today and he’ll get back as soon as he can.”
McCaffrey scored his second touchdown of the game on fourth-and-2 with 13:25 left but walked off the field gingerly. Athletic trainers then re-wrapped McCaffrey’s right ankle, but he never returned.
Rhule said the injury happened two plays prior to the touchdown.
Sunday was the 50th game of McCaffrey’s career, and he has not missed a game in his three-plus seasons.
Mike Davis replaced McCaffrey for the remainder of Sunday’s loss, finishing the contest with eight receptions for 74 yards and a 1-yard carry. The six-year veteran is presumably the next-man-up in McCaffrey’s extended absence.
“I’m just here to do my job, go out there and do whatever coach asks me to do,” Davis said Sunday. “I’m not looking to go out there and try to do anything crazy.”
The 27-year-old Davis has 10 career starts, eight of which came with Seattle from 2017-18. He rushed for 514 yards and four touchdowns with the Seahawks in 2018. The South Carolina product has registered 890 yards rushing with five rushing touchdowns plus 74 receptions for 504 yards with one touchdown catch since entering the league as a 49ers' fourth-round pick in 2015.
With new rules enacted for the 2020 season, the Panthers could potentially place McCaffrey on the reserve/injured list and bring him back after a minimum of three games. That would allow the club to fill his spot on the 53-man roster temporarily.
Trenton Cannon is the only other running back on the Panthers' active roster. Reggie Bonnafon, who had 23 touches for 173 yards and a touchdown last season, is currently on the practice squad.
The Carolina Panthers felt they beat themselves in a 31-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Four turnovers and nine penalties undermined the team’s chances. And, it didn’t help that star running back Christian McCaffrey was slowed — and eventually sidelined for most of the fourth quarter — by what coach Matt Rhule described as a lower leg injury.
McCaffrey scored on runs of 1 and 7 yards, and the Panthers trimmed a 21-0 deficit to seven points early in the fourth quarter. He limped off the field after his second TD and didn’t play the final 13 minutes.
“I have no update. He came out in the first quarter, too,” Rhule said Sunday, adding he wasn’t sure if the injury that forced McCaffrey to leave the game for one play early was the same that ended his day.
“I don’t know that. They just tell me up or down,” the coach said.
On Monday morning, ESPN insider Adam Schefter, citing sources, reported that McCaffrey is expected to miss several games with an ankle injury.
The Panthers cut into a 21-0 deficit with McCaffrey’s 1-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. His 7-yard scoring burst on fourth-and-2 trimmed the Tom Brady-led Bucs' lead to 21-14 with 13:25 remaining.
McCaffrey, who was seen on the sideline getting his right ankle taped, did not return when the Panthers got the ball back and drove into Tampa Bay territory before Teddy Bridgewater threw his second interception of the game.
“It’s tough when you don’t have your best players on the field,” said Bridgewater, who threw for 367 yards but no TDs.
In addition to throwing two interceptions, the quarterback who signed with the Panthers in free agency was sacked five times and lost a fumble that set up Brady’s only TD pass of the day.
McCaffrey finished with 88 yards from scrimmage — 59 rushing on 18 attempts and 29 receiving on four receptions.
Backup Mike Davis gained 1 yard on his only rushing attempt, but caught eight passes for 74 yards.
“I’m just here to do my job and do whatever coaches ask me to do,” Davis said.
Meanwhile, the Panthers made a concerted effort to also get receiver Curtis Samuel involved in the running game.
Samuel, who played some running back at Ohio State, had four carries for 26 yards.
Tom Brady got his first win with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, throwing for 217 yards, one touchdown, and an interception in a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
With another recent acquisition, Leonard Fournette, rushing for 103 yards and two TDs, Brady rebounded from a less-than-stellar debut for his new team to avoid starting a season with consecutive losses for the first time in a 21-year career.
The six-time Super Bowl champion also bounced back in Week 2 after dropping openers with the New England Patriots in 2003, 2014 and 2017.
Brady tossed a 23-yard TD pass to Mike Evans in the first quarter. Fournette scored on runs of 1 and 46 yards, the latter coming after Carolina rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to pull within 24-17 on a pair of TD runs by Christian McCaffrey and Joey Slye’s 23-yard field goal with 1:57 remaining.
Brady completed 23 of 35 passes, and Evans finished with seven receptions for 104 yards. Fournette averaged 8.6 yards per carry on 12 rushing attempts.
Teddy Bridgewater was 33 of 42 for 367 yards and two interceptions for the Panthers (0-2), who had four turnovers.
McCaffrey, who spent most of the fourth quarter on the sideline with an apparent ankle injury, scored on runs of 1 and 7 yards and finished with 58 yards rushing and 29 receiving on four catches.
DJ Moore had eight catches for 120 yards and Robby Anderson had nine receptions for 109 yards for Carolina. Brady threw for 239 yards and two TDs during the previous week’s 34-23 season-opening loss at New Orleans. He also hurt the Bucs with a pair of interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown and drew criticism from coach Bruce Arians.
The defense set the tone for Sunday’s victory, forcing two turnovers within a three-play span of the first quarter after not having any takeaways during the season opener.
Jordan Whitehead’s interception preceded a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive Brady fueled with a 50-yard completion to Evans and that Carolina extended with a personal foul that gave the Bucs a first down at the Panthers 7.
Ronald Jones ran it in on the next play for a 7-0 lead Brady quickly built to two touchdowns after rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. sacked Bridgewater and Jason Pierre-Paul recovered to set up the 43-year-old quarterback’s 23-yard TD pass to Evans on the next play.
Fournette’s 1-yard scoring run, the fifth rushing TD Carolina has allowed in two games, increased the lead to 21-0.
Brady’s third interception of the season, and cornerback Donte Jackson’s 44-yard return into Buccaneers territory sparked Carolina’s comeback.
McCaffrey scored his second TD with 13:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Panthers: McCaffrey limped off the field following his second touchdown and remained on the sideline after getting his right ankle taped.
Buccaneers: WR Chris Godwin missed the game after spending part of last week in the concussion protocol. He was limited in practice Friday before being downgraded from doubtful to out.
Panthers: Remain on road against the Los Angeles Chargers.
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