5 players the Panthers missed most at the Saints in Week 7

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Rasul Douglas
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Rasul Douglas /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Scouting Report. 5. player. 87. Pick Analysis. RB. CAROLINA PANTHERS. CHRISTIANMCCAFFREY

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers RB

Christian McCaffrey‘s long-awaited return isn’t too far away. The All-Pro running back wasn’t risked by the Carolina Panthers at the Saints on a short week and his status leading up to Thursday Night Football against the Falcons is something worth keeping a close eye on.

It is probably the right call to keep McCaffrey out of the firing line until his high ankle sprain has fully healed. This is an injury that could flare-up again if the player is rushed back into the fold, which would be nothing short of a disaster for the Panthers.

McCaffrey has been missed over the last two games. Replacement Mike Davis has done a tremendous job for the most part. But he has been held in check by the Saints and the Bears that have made things difficult for Carolina to force the issue running the ball.

Having the NFL’s best dual-threat back immediately takes the attention away from other areas of the field. Teddy Bridgewater did a tremendous job getting the offense moving in the right direction before eventually falling short on a critical fourth-quarter sack. But keeping the defense honest with a reliable runner such as McCaffrey would have been another big shot in the arm.

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There will undoubtedly be a role for Davis when McCaffrey does return. But the Panthers need their face of the franchise back quickly.