Panthers news: Christian McCaffrey’s shoulder is another big worry

(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

The Panthers news regarding Christian McCaffrey’s shoulder isn’t promising.

It was a triumphant return to the starting rotation for Christian McCaffrey in Week 9 at the Chiefs. The All-Pro running back fitted in seamlessly to the lineup following a six-week absence and he played a significant role in the Carolina Panthers almost pulling off the shock of the season.

However, this encouragement might be short-lived.

There was some bad Panthers news to emerge from the game besides the eventual 33-31 loss. McCaffrey went off the field with a shoulder injury and was unable to make an impression on a critical final drive that eventually resulted in kicker Joey Slye missing a long field goal that would have ended the team’s three-game losing slump.

There should be more Panthers news regarding Christian McCaffrey today.

According to Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network, McCaffrey is set to undergo an MRI examination on Monday and his status for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is in question.7

Hopefully, for the player and the Panthers, it is nothing too serious. But it is the latest concern surrounding the former first-round pick’s health during what’s been a frustrating campaign overall.

It’s ironic that McCaffrey hadn’t missed an NFL game before this season. And his extended absence came after signing a four-year, $64 million contract extension that also included a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed – the richest contract ever given to a running back.

This isn’t the best Panthers news to emerge, especially as they’re coming off a largely positive performance at the Super Bowl champions.

McCaffrey went for 151 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns from 28 combined touches after going off in Week 2 at the Buccaneers with a high ankle sprain. So if he spends some more time on the sidelines it has the scope to take away some of the momentum generated from the performance.

It was a stinging hit delivered on McCaffrey, but nothing he hasn’t experienced before. The Panthers need to and will remain ultra-cautious with their prized asset as the more injuries keep piling up, the less bang for their buck they’ll be getting from the best dual-threat back in the league.

This would put Mike Davis into a primary role after he saw just 31 percent of Carolina’s offensive snaps last time out. The veteran’s influence clearly waned in the few games prior to McCaffrey’s return and it remains to be seen he could return to his earlier season form in this scenario.

McCaffrey is the beating heart of the Panthers from an offensive standpoint. But the joy of his long-awaited return could be swiftly followed by another substantial blow.