Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey feels good about possible return Sunday vs. Philadelphia Eagles

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey says he “definitely” has a chance to play in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

McCaffrey missed Sunday’s 36-28 loss to the Dallas Cowboys because of a hamstring injury suffered the previous week in a Thursday night win at Houston. The initial prognosis was that he could miss several weeks, but having the extra days off after the Thursday night game helped.

“I definitely feel good,” McCaffrey said on Thursday.

McCaffrey was listed as limited on the injury report for the second straight day as the Panthers (3-1) eased him back into practice to avoid any setbacks. Coach Matt Rhule said on Wednesday his star back would be a game-time decision.

But McCaffrey’s optimism for facing the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense was obvious.

“You kind of just know how you feel,” he said.

McCaffrey admitted he was frustrated by the injury after missing 13 games in 2020 with three different injuries. He said the short week before playing Houston “definitely” played a role in the hamstring injury, saying a few extra days to recover from the previous week could have prevented it.

“It was extremely frustrating,” he said. “I don’t prefer Thursday night games. You go through a lot in a football game. You really get two days to recover, and one of those days is a travel day.

“You hop on a plane. You’re in a hotel and you go out and play in a football game. It’s really tough. It is what it is. It’s part of the game.”

McCaffrey in 2019 became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He entered Week 3 as the NFL’s leader in total yards from scrimmage with 324 and had 364 when he strained the hamstring in the second quarter against the Texans.

McCaffrey said last year’s injuries haven’t made him cautious and neither will this one.

“I play full speed all the time,” he said.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady said he was preparing rookie Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman and Rodney Smith to be ready if McCaffrey can’t play.

Hubbard led Carolina with 13 carries for 57 yards against Dallas.

“We know he makes us better,” Brady said of McCaffrey. “We’ll see come Sunday.”

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