Do the Carolina Panthers have a secret weapon at running back?

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Myles Hartsfield
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Myles Hartsfield /

The Carolina Panthers may have to think outside the box as they look to fill the void left by injured running back Christian McCaffrey.

Christian McCaffrey had never missed an NFL game before this season. So it is ironic that the running back is now set for a spell on the sidelines after signings a lucrative extension that made him the highest-paid player at the position in league history.

The All-Pro suffered a high ankle sprain as the Carolina Panthers went down to their tenth straight loss spanning back to the previous campaign at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McCaffrey went off at a crucial time when it looked like the team was getting back into the contest and he is now set to miss anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

This is a critical blow for the organization. Losing their star player when things already look bleak is not going to do them any favors. But given how little is expected of this group in terms of a winning record in 2020, the Panthers should be extra cautious with their prized asset.

Bringing McCaffrey back too soon when the ankle isn’t fully healed only increases the risk of the injury flaring up again. The likelihood of this sort of sprain occurring multiple times if not 100 percent is high, so it is a situation that Carolina needs to monitor closely.

One player’s loss is another’s gain in the ever-changing world of the NFL. Mike Davis should come in and get the bulk of the work, with Trenton Cannon and Reggie Bonnafon also aiming to make their presence felt when called upon.

New head coach Matt Rhule might also have a secret weapon at his disposal.

Myles Hartsfield impressed the Carolina Panthers at camp.

Myles Hartsfield was one of the Panthers’ training camp sensations thanks to some stellar play on both sides of the ball. The undrafted free-agent left no doubt that he belongs in the NFL and he caught the eye enough to take his place on the 53-man roster.

The former Ole Miss standout has been used sparingly by the Panthers so far, but that could be about to change.

Hartsfield really caught the eye both as a defensive back and a running back during team drills. This resulted in significant praise from the coaching staff prior to the campaign and it might give Carolina an option that opposing defenses might not see coming.

Others will be given more of the load, of that there is little doubt. However, the possibility of using Hartsfield in special packages is a potential impact that shouldn’t be overlooked.

If it doesn’t go according to plan, so what?

The Panthers are currently in the midst of a season that is basically trial and error in pursuit of becoming a contender again in the not-too-distant future. Throwing Hartsfield in at the deep end would tell them plenty about if he could be relied upon going forward and this versatility is something they coveted heavily in almost every new recruit during the offseason and the 2020 NFL Draft.

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McCaffrey’s production cannot be replicated by just one member of the current roster. It will need to be a collective effort and Hartsfield’s big chance might be coming sooner than he thinks.