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NFL Draft

Christian McCaffrey Injury Proves He’s Not Exception To The Rule

  • The Draft Network
  • September 24, 2021
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The Carolina Panthers are experiencing a dream start to their 2021 season, having opened the year 3-0 for the first time since 2015. The perfect record won't stop Carolina fans from feeling some gloom and doom on Friday morning, however.

Starting running back Christian McCaffrey was injured on a relatively routine play during Thursday night's primetime contest against the Houston Texans. We've now been made aware that McCaffrey will spend several weeks nursing the hamstring injury on the sidelines, per Ian Rapoport. The injury is especially troubling given that McCaffrey missed 13 of 16 games a year ago with recurring ankle and shoulder issues.

McCaffrey is awfully close to earning the haunted "injury prone" label. It's a sad development after McCaffrey played in 48 out of a possible 48 games in his first three seasons. McCaffrey has been one of the most feared playmakers in the NFL over the past few campaigns. His toolbox as both a runner and pass-catcher includes excellent quickness and the ability to make defenders miss in space on what feels like a snap-by-snap basis. When analyzing the recent changes in McCaffrey's availability to suit up consistently, it's worth noting the workload carried by the former Stanford standout throughout the early portion of his career.

McCaffrey essentially became the Panthers' offense from the moment he began donning their colors. He touched the ball on a startling 926 occasions during his first three seasons. McCaffrey's early-career workload has officially begun taking its toll. Serving as an early-career workhorse often leads to recurring injuries or breakdowns in performances before we know it, and McCaffrey isn't proving to be an exception to this rule.

When McCaffrey returns to the field in a few weeks’ time, the Panthers would be wise to lessen his workload. Keeping McCaffrey healthy and available for a playoff run (they're 3-0, after all) should be the team's top priority going forward.

This offense isn't devoid of talent. The trio of D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and rookie starlet Terrace Marshall Jr. has all the makings of a formidable pass-catching unit. Carolina would be wise to employ a strategy on offense that keeps the face of their franchise healthy and available before it's too late to rescue McCaffery from the dangerous path he is currently embarking on.

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