Panthers place McCaffrey on IR; RB can’t return until Week 9

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have placed running back Christian McCaffrey on injured reserve, meaning he will miss at least the next three games with a hamstring injury.

McCaffrey already has missed two games, both Carolina losses.

The Panthers’ 2017 first-round draft pick was injured in a Week 3 win against the Houston Texans. He hasn’t played since and the Panthers are 0-2 without him in the starting lineup after starting the season 3-0.

[INJURY UPDATE: Panthers’ McCaffrey out Sunday because of hamstring]

The earliest he will be able to return to game action is Nov. 7 against the New England Patriots. McCaffrey will have missed 18 of 24 games with injuries since becoming the league’s highest-paid running back following the 2019 season.

McCaffrey practiced on Wednesday on a limited basis but was held out on Thursday and Friday.

The Panthers (3-2) host the Minnesota Vikings (2-3) on Sunday. Chuba Hubbard will continue to start for McCaffrey. Hubbard ran for 101 yards on 24 carries in Carolina’s 21-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.

The Panthers also ruled out linebackers Shaq Thompson and Kamal Martin (concussion) this week

The Panthers also placed punter Joe Charlton on injured reserve with back soreness and signed Ryan Winslow to the practice squad.

(WATCH BELOW: Rhule: McCaffrey likely out for Sunday but injury not expected to be season-ending)