Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) expected to miss a few weeks

Christian McCaffrey is going to miss some time again.

The Carolina Panthers star running back is expected to be out a few weeks as the team continues to run tests on his strained hamstring, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday. The team is not planning to put McCaffrey on injured reserve as of now, Rapoport added.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule confirmed McCaffrey's status later Friday, adding that IR could be a possibility, but isn't a consideration right now.

McCaffrey pulled up lame following a 2-yard run in the second quarter of Carolina's Thursday night win over the Texans. After a trip to the medical tent, McCaffrey was ruled out for the game. He finished with seven carries for 31 yards and two receptions for nine yards.

Rookie Chuba Hubbard carried the bulk of the load thereafter and figures to be the starter moving forward. His 11 rushing attempts (for 52 yards) and three receptions (for 27 yards) represented his largest workload yet. Offseason acquisition Royce Freeman could also see an expanded role with McCaffrey sidelined. The Panthers have utilized a balanced offensive attack to buttress an aggressive defense amid their surprising 3-0 start.

Losing arguably their best player for an extended period would certainly be a blow. But it wouldn't be unfamiliar. McCaffrey appeared in just three games last year while battling ankle and shoulder injuries. (The 2019 All-Pro did not miss a single game over his first three seasons.) With second-year coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady settled in, and Sam Darnold playing the best ball of his career, Carolina appears better equipped to withstand CMC's absence this time around.

"We'll be all right without him," Darnold told reporters Thursday. "Obviously, we want him back, but I want him to take his time right now and make sure he's good for the end of the season."

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