4 keys to victory for the Panthers vs. the Falcons in Week 8

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Don’t overuse Christian McCaffrey

Head coach Matt Rhule hasn’t yet ruled out star running back Christian McCaffrey from making his long-awaited return against the Falcons. This would be another tremendous boost for an offense that is a joy to watch at times and is sure to propel them to greater heights going forward.

The Carolina Panthers are airing on the side of caution regarding their face of the franchise, and with good reason. They will not want McCaffrey coming back too soon and aggravating his high ankle sprain for a second time, which would be nothing short of a disaster for a team that has really missed the All-Pro over the last two outings.

Even if McCaffrey is ready to go, the Panthers shouldn’t go back to old habits.

They must continue to utilize every offensive weapon at their disposal, something that has proved highly beneficial in the player’s absence. This will keep Atlanta’s defense honest and free up even more space for McCaffrey to work in if he is given the green light to make his triumphant return to the fold.

Adding a player who became only the third running back in NFL history to go over 1,000-yards rushing and receiving last season to this offense is going to be fascinating. This is a unit that is far more fluid now than at any time before McCaffrey went off at the Buccaneers and the sky is the limit for the Panthers, providing they don’t over-rely on the former first-round pick like the team has in the past.