Christian McCaffrey simply cannot stay healthy.
The 25-year-old running back is dealing with yet another injury to his lower body. He suffered the ankly injury in the first half of the Panthers’ 33-10 loss to the Dolphins. He was never declared out for the game after rolling his ankle, but he played sparingly in the Panthers’ blowout loss.
It turns out that McCaffrey’s injury is serious. As a result, the Panthers have to place him on IR once again.
McCaffrey’s latest IR stint marks the fourth time in the last two seasons that he has landed on that inactive list. He has played in just 10 games since signing a four-year, $64 million contract before the 2020 NFL season.
Here’s everything to know about McCaffrey’s injury and what it means for the Panthers.
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How long is Christian McCaffrey out?
McCaffrey was spotted in a walking boot after the Panthers’ loss to the Dolphins. He was never ruled out of the game despite suffering the injury in the first half.
Coach Matt Rhule didn’t have much of an update about McCaffrey’s condition in the immediate aftermath of the game. All that was known was McCaffrey would get an MRI to check on his injury Monday.
As early as Monday morning, Rhule indicated that he didn’t believe McCaffrey’s injury was serious. However, the injury reportedly “swelled up significantly overnight” and the MRI revealed enough damage that McCaffrey would have to be placed on IR once again.
Matt Rhule was hopeful the Panthers would get good news on Christian McCaffrey, who was never ruled out of Sunday’s game and tried to play through it.
I’m told ankle swelled up significantly overnight. Because of recovery time, decision was made to place him on IR.
— Joe Person (@josephperson) November 29, 2021
McCaffrey already had an IR stint earlier in the season while dealing with a hamstring injury. Once a player is placed on IR a second time, he is automatically ruled out for the rest of the season. So, McCaffrey will miss the Panthers’ remaining five regular-season games and any potential postseason action as well.
That means McCaffrey will have missed 23 games over the last two seasons while playing in just 10. His combined scrimmage yards in 2020 and 2021 amounted to 1,159 in 10 games. In 2019, he had more than double that — 2,392 yards — while playing in all 16 games.
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What is Christian McCaffrey’s injury?
McCaffrey is dealing with an unspecified ankle injury. He reportedly “rolled” or “tweaked” it against the Dolphins.
McCaffrey has dealt with ankle issues before. He missed six games in 2020 as a result of a high-ankle sprain. It’s unclear whether his current injury is similar to that, but the recovery timetable of 4-6 weeks for high-ankle sprains about lines up with McCaffrey’s projected absence.
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Christian McCaffrey injury timeline
— Sept. 23: McCaffrey exits the Panthers’ “Thursday Night Football” game with a hamstring injury. He is ruled out for the game.
— Oct. 7: After missing the Panthers’ Week 4 loss to the Cowboys, McCaffrey says that he “definitely” has a chance to play in Week 5 against the Vikings.
— Oct. 8: McCaffrey is listed as “doubtful” on the injury report ahead of the Panthers-Eagles game.
— Oct. 10: The Panthers officially list McCaffrey as inactive, marking his second consecutive missed game.
— Oct. 13: Rhule says that McCaffrey is “50-50” to play against the Vikings in Week 6. He had used the same language in describing McCaffrey’s availability the previous week.
Matt Rhule says Christian McCaffrey is probably 50-50 and will probably go right up until game day, which is what he said last week … until Friday, when he listed him as doubtful.
— Joe Person (@josephperson) October 13, 2021
— Oct. 16: The Panthers place McCaffrey on IR after being ruled out a third straight game due to the hamstring injury.
— Nov. 6: Carolina activates McCaffrey from IR ahead of Week 9. He is available to play against the Patriots.
— Nov. 7: McCaffrey logs 106 yards on 18 touches against the Patriots.
— Nov. 21: McCaffrey avoids being listed on the injury report, plays and finishes three consecutive games for the Panthers.
— Nov. 28: During the Panthers-Dolphins game, McCaffrey rolls his ankle. He is not ruled out but plays sparingly in the second half and is seen after the game in a walking boot.
— Nov. 29: McCaffrey is placed on IR after an MRI to determine the severity of his ankle injury. His season is over, as players are ruled out for the year once they have a second stint on IR.