Carolina Panthers making the right call with Christian McCaffrey

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /

The Carolina Panthers are erring on the side of caution with star running back Christian McCaffrey.

Christian McCaffrey might be chomping at the bit to get back onto the field. But the Carolina Panthers are erring on the side of caution regarding his impending return.

The All-Pro running back has been sidelined since Week 2 with a high-ankle sprain, which has seen the Carolina Panthers go on a 3-1 run in his absence. They definitely missed his dual-threat ability during Sunday’s defeat at home to the Chicago Bears, but he could now only be a few days away from getting himself back into the lineup.

Head coach Matt Rhule has opted not to throw McCaffrey in at the New Orleans Saints, which is down in no small part to the short week facing the Panthers before they take on the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. While that might be frustrating from the player’s point of view, it is the right call to make with an injury such as this.

Bringing McCaffrey back too soon could have a detrimental impact if the ankle sprain flares up again, which they tend to do unless fully healed. Keeping their star player fit and firing on all cylinders is going to be crucial to their long-term objectives and they appear to be rightfully resisting the temptation to throw him back into the mix at the earliest possible opportunity.

Talk of the Panthers offense being more fluid without McCaffrey is now a moot point following a disjointed showing against the Bears. They’ve managed to get some positive results against less than stellar teams without the face of the franchise. But if they want to pick up some notable scalps between now and the end of the campaign, his health is of critical importance.

The Carolina Panthers are dealing well with their Christian McCaffrey dilemma.

This is a tricky situation for Rhule, who will know what’s at stake this season. The former Baylor man has been tasked with steering Carolina back into postseason contention sooner rather than later and with their short-term fortunes hanging in the balance at 3-3, things could still go either way.

Having McCaffrey will help, but that doesn’t make it any less precarious.

Another injury to the former first-round pick would leave some questioning whether the Panthers were right to give McCaffrey a four-year, $64 million contract extension with a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed. This is the risk that comes with paying running backs the going rate, and it was ironic that the Stanford product missed his first action since being drafted just a game and a half after putting pen to paper.

McCaffrey remains an indispensable member of the roster, of that there is little doubt. The coaching staff should not be criticized for playing it safe with their prized possession as the bigger picture is far more important than any short-term gain that could do more harm than good.

light. Related Story. 3 reasons the Carolina Panthers shouldn’t rush Christian McCaffrey back

Hopefully, for the player and the Panthers, McCaffrey will be able to return against the Falcons. But waiting one more long week to see him in action wouldn’t be the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination.