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Christian McCaffrey: I don’t prefer Thursday night games

Stephon Gilmore is heading home after a sudden trade sends him from the Patriots to the Panthers, which keeps him away from Tom Brady and the Bucs.

Christian McCaffrey returned to practice on Wednesday and now it appears Carolina’s star running back has a decent shot at returning to game action this week.

After missing Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, McCaffrey (hamstring) has been listed as limited for the first two practices in Week Five. Speaking to the media after Thursday’s session, McCaffrey said he “definitely” has a chance to play in Sunday’s matchup against the Eagles.

But McCaffrey, who played only three games due to injury in 2020, also noted that he felt like playing on a Thursday was a significant reason why he suffered the injury in the first place.

“It was extremely frustrating,” McCaffrey said in his press conference. “I don’t prefer Thursday night games. You go through a lot in a football game. And you really get two days to recover and one of those days is a travel day. So you get two days to recover, you hop on a plane, you get in a hotel, and then you go out and play in a football game. It’s really tough. But it is what it is. It’s part of the game. And, obviously, frustrating.”

McCaffrey injured his hamstring in the second quarter of the Week Three Thursday matchup against Houston. McCaffrey took a 2-yard run out of bounds to the left and was clearly hobbled as he finished the play.

McCaffrey added he “definitely” thought playing on Thursday was a factor, given the limited amount of rest and recovery time. But McCaffrey didn’t think the hamstring injury was from overuse.

“I’d just say it is what it is,” McCaffrey said. “Injuries happen to guys that are used a lot and a little. It is what it is. It happened, so [I’m] moving on.”

Thursday games aren’t going away anytime soon. But McCaffrey was asked directly about how he feels about them, and gave a clear answer.

“If you’re going to ask me, I would definitely say — I think I’m not alone in this — but I’d probably argue against them,” McCaffrey said. “I understand though, it’s part of the game. I can sit up here and complain — I’m not complaining, that’s for sure. It is frustrating sometimes when you feel like something could’ve been avoided with a little more rest, you know? But I’m sure if I got through that game 100 percent, I wouldn’t be saying anything about it. So that’s just me and my personal views.”

McCaffrey 364 yards from scrimmage — 201 rushing, 163 receiving — and a rushing touchdown so far in 2021.