CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While Panthers coach Matt Rhule says he expects quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to return to the starting lineup on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, running back Christian McCaffrey will not join the team and has been downgraded from questionable to out.
On Friday, Rhule said he was “pessimistic” about McCaffrey’s chances of playing.
>> Coming off a big win, the Panthers are looking to keep the momentum going against the Minnesota Vikings. We have what you need to know before kickoff, on Panthers Gameday LIVE on Channel 9 at 11 a.m.
McCaffrey was listed as questionable on the team’s injury report on Friday after practicing on a limited basis, which immediately raised some eyebrows about his chances of playing this week. But Rhule seemed to shoot down any hopes of a McCaffrey return a few minutes during his video conference call, telling reporters, “I’m pessimistic that he will play. But he has practiced well enough this week to earn the right to be listed as questionable, so we’re kind of in a wait and see mode. But would label myself as pessimistic about his chances of playing.”
This will be the ninth game McCaffrey will miss this year after playing each game his first three seasons. A high ankle sprain forced him out of six other games.
The Panthers (4-7) have a bye next week, which would give McCaffrey an additional week to get ready for the final four games.
Bridgewater was not listed on the team’s injury report and will return to the starting lineup after missing last week’s 20-0 win over the Detroit Lions. Bridgewater is returning to face his former team on Sunday. He played for the Vikings from 2014-17.
“Teddy is back to the way he was before the injury,” Rhule said.
The Panthers are expected to make a game-time decision on left tackle Russell Okung, who has been out the last three weeks with a calf injury. Guard Dennis Daley (concussion) is out, while cornerback Donte Jackson (toe) is doubtful.
CAROLINA (4-7) at MINNESOTA (4-6)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, Fox
OPENING LINE — Vikings by 4 1/2
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Panthers 6-5; Vikings 6-4
SERIES RECORD — Vikings lead 8-6
LAST MEETING — Panthers beat Vikings 31-24, Dec. 10, 2017, in Charlotte
LAST WEEK — Panthers beat Lions 20-0; Vikings lost to Cowboys 31-28
AP PRO32 RANKING — Panthers No. 20, Vikings No. 17
PANTHERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (19), RUSH (20), PASS (17).
PANTHERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (17), RUSH (17), PASS (19).
VIKINGS OFFENSE — OVERALL (8), RUSH (6), PASS (19).
VIKINGS DEFENSE — OVERALL (20), RUSH (22), PASS (26).
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