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Panthers rule out Christian McCaffrey ahead of game with Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Well before they needed to make the announcement, the Carolina Panthers ruled out star running back Christian McCaffrey on Wednesday, ahead of this week's game against the Detroit Lions. 

It's been a frustrating follow-up season for the 2019 All-Pro. This will mark the second consecutive game McCaffrey will be sidelined by a shoulder injury. He also missed six more earlier in the year with a high ankle sprain. 

Christian McCaffrey

Last season, the dual-threat back rushed for 1,387 yards, caught 116 passes for another 1,005 yards and scored a league-high 19 total touchdowns. Without McCaffrey, the Panthers have leaned heavily on veteran Mike Davis to fill their backfield responsibilities. 

"This guy is a really good running back," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "This guy is strong and powerful, a great cut-back runner, but he can also bounce out to the edge. So you have to be very disciplined in the run defense or otherwise this guy will hurt you very quickly. He has good speed."

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In 10 games (seven starts), Davis has rushed for 385 yards on 92 carries (4.2 yards per carry). And like McCaffrey, Davis has also been a weapon in the passing game for Carolina, hauling in 47 balls for 290 yards out of the backfield. 

"I think the thing about it is that McCaffrey is so unique — he can run a (full) route tree," Patricia said. "He can run a lot of different routes, from outside to inside, he can be in different positions and run those just as efficiently as a wide receiver could. Mike Davis is more of just the production of he’s going to get in space. They have some plays where they get him the ball. He can run really good running back routes and get open, runs the angle really well. He can get to the flat and then, I think, it’s the production that you see that once he catches it. It’s all of the same problems that you have to deal with."