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Matt Rhule: Christian McCaffrey set to practice Wednesday, hopefully he’ll play this week

Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey hasn’t played since suffering a hamstring injury against the Texans in Week Three. But it’s sounding like he should be back on the field imminently.

“Hopefully we get Christian back soon. Hopefully, it’s this week. If not this week, then next week,” Carolina head coach Matt Rhule said in his Monday press conference. “Obviously, he’s one of the best players in football. He brings something.”

McCaffrey initially did not go on injured reserve after he went down against Houston. But the Panthers then placed him on IR on Oct. 16, which shut him down for an additional three weeks. If McCaffrey practices Wednesday, that would begin his 21-day practice window for returning from IR.

“Yeah, he’ll practice Wednesday, I’m hoping,” Rhule said. “If he practices on Wednesday and does well, then we’ll see how he is on Thursday and just kind of ramp him up toward the game. He hasn’t practiced yet, so there’s always a return-to-play component to it. But no one works harder than Christian McCaffrey. When he comes back, he’ll be in shape and ready to go. So hopefully we have him. We’ll know more as the week goes on.”

Since Rhule took over as head coach in 2020, McCaffrey has played just six games due to various injuries. In 2020, he recorded 374 yards from scrimmage on 76 touches with six touchdowns. This season, he’s rushed 52 times for 201 yards with one touchdown and caught 16 passes for 163 yards.

Back in 2019, McCaffrey became just the third player in league history to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season. He signed a four-year, $64 million extension in April 2020.

The Patriots will be in Charlotte to take on the Panthers in Week Nine.