WEEK 12: Bridgewater expected to play vs. Vikings; McCaffrey ruled out

WEEK 12: Bridgewater expected to play vs. Vikings; McCaffrey ruled out
(WSOC)

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.

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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.

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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).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater, who missed the last game with a knee injury, is on track to start against his original team for the first time. The Vikings drafted Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick in 2014, and he started 29 games before a severe knee injury sidelined him for 2016. Bridgewater is second in the NFL among qualified QBs in completion percentage (72.1). ... Panthers 2019 All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey has played in only three games but has six TDs. He’s expected to miss his third straight game due to a shoulder injury. Mike Davis is averaging 4.7 yards per touch in his place. McCaffrey averaged 5.9 yards per touch last year. ... Panthers WR D.J. Moore has 11 receptions for 223 yards and a TD over the last two games. With Moore and Robby Anderson, the Panthers are the only team in the league with two players with 800-plus receiving yards. ... Brian Burns, who had a career-high two sacks last week against the Lions, leads all DEs in the NFL in total tackles with 42. ... Carolina posted its first shutout in 82 games since Dec. 13, 2015. ... The Vikings are 1-4 at home this season. ... Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is one of four players in the league this season with five or more games with a passer rating of 115 or higher, joining Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. ... Vikings WR Adam Thielen, who went on the COVID-19 reserve list on Monday, leads the NFL with 11 TD receptions. He has 10 TDs in his last nine home games. ... Vikings RB Dalvin Cook is coming off the most productive four-game stretch of his career, with totals of 750 yards and seven TDs from scrimmage. ... Vikings LB Eric Kendricks has an interception in each of the last two home games and is tied for sixth in the league with 94 total tackles. ... Fantasy tip: Panthers WR Curtis Samuel has 311 yards from scrimmage and five TDs — two rushing — in his past five games. The Vikings have allowed three or more passing TDs in five of 10 games this season, including last week against the Cowboys.