Promising injury projection for Christian McCaffrey in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Christian McCaffrey /

Christian McCaffrey received a promising injury projection as he looks to bounce back for the Carolina Panthers in 2021.

One doesn’t have to look far at where things went wrong for the Carolina Panthers last season. Being competitive was encouraging, for the most part. However, their lack of conviction to come through in big moments had plenty to do with not only poor quarterback play from Teddy Bridgewater, but also the absence of Christian McCaffrey from the lineup.

The All-Pro managed just three games due to ankle, shoulder, and quad problems. A far cry from the durability McCaffrey demonstrated over his first three seasons in the NFL.

Hopefully, this was just a short bump in the road and McCaffrey can resume his status as a relative iron man at running back when competitive action rolls around in 2021. One thing is for sure, the Panthers need him at the top of his game if they want to make further strides.

Things look promising from McCaffrey’s point of view judging by the player’s sharpness during the early part of Carolina’s offseason program.

This is nothing compared to putting the pads on at training camp and in preseason games, although the Panthers would be wise not to distribute too many carries in the former first-round pick’s direction before their regular-season opener against the New York Jets.

Keeping him healthy is of critical importance for the Panthers.

They have enough weapons to take the pressure off. Even though McCaffrey will still be the focal point on offense for as long as he is performing at an elite level.

The shelf-life of running backs is considerably smaller than in other positions. Carrying the ball in today’s NFL is a violent business and defenders are only getting bigger, faster, and more aggressive.

Christian McCaffrey received an encouraging 2021 projection from Sports Injury Predictor.

According to recent projections from analysts at, the outlook is good for McCaffrey despite his problems staying on the field last time around.

They predict the chances of McCaffrey getting hurt for any period of time once again at 19 percent, with his missed games projection standing at 0.2.

This also came with a 1.2 percent probability of McCaffrey getting hurt in any game. Make no mistake, the Panthers would take these numbers regarding their face of the franchise.

Compare this with Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, who is projected to miss two games and has a 90 percent chance of getting injured in 2021.

Obviously, these predictions will count for nothing if Carolina cannot get a little more from elsewhere on offense.

McCaffrey has accumulated 1,002 combined touches from just 51 career games. Something that cannot continue if the organization wants to maximize production throughout the Stanford product’s four-year, $64 million deal that came with a $21 million signing bonus and $38 million guaranteed.

This is something that also needs to be recognized by McCaffrey. Putting less on his shoulders to preserve his long-term health is essential, but also needs to be signed-off by arguably the most influential member of Carolina’s locker room after a wealth of veteran departures over the last two years.

Finding the right balance is key.

Joe Brady, McCaffrey, and Matt Rhule will already know what’s the smart play here. And it’s not like there isn’t an embarrassment of riches elsewhere providing they are used in the correct fashion.

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The Panthers are counting on McCaffrey to lead from the front. If this injury projection comes to fruition, then expect some big improvements that might be enough to surprise consensus preseason projections in 2021.