After suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is expected to return for a Nov. 8 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
McCaffrey was back at practice heading into Thursday's game against the Atlanta Falcons, but the team chose not to activate him out of caution after he didn't get to participate in a full practice, per ESPN's David Newton.
Carolina coach Matt Rhule made it clear to CSL Fox 46 that McCaffrey will not play until he's "100 percent":
Will Kunkel @WillKunkelFOX46
🚨EXCLUSIVE Matt Rhule on Christian McCaffrey: "He could probably come back early but he would not be the same player he always is. We are making sure he is 100% - not 99%." #KeepPounding 📺Part one of my 1-on-1 with Matt Rhule on @CSLFOX46 tonight after the game. (DEBUT SHOW) https://t.co/ju6A0a3wQx
The highest-paid running back in the league was hurt as the Panthers fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to drop to 0-2 on the season. With McCaffrey sidelined, the team could have fallen further, but Mike Davis, who is in Carolina for the second season, has posted 283 yards and two touchdowns in five starts.
The Panthers have gone 3-2 since, but for the season, they have been able to convert just 52 percent of red-zone appearances into touchdowns, sixth-worst in the league. It's clear Carolina misses McCaffrey, who scored four touchdowns in his two outings and had never missed a game before this injury.
On Wednesday, Rhule expressed his desire for the running/receiving dual threat to return.
"I want to win today, so I'm hopeful that it is today," Rhule told reporters. "All I can say is, won't be a minute too early."