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Christian McCaffrey teases return vs. Falcons

Panthers, Christian McCaffrey

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey arrived to practice with a red jersey on Tuesday, seemingly indicating he is unlikely to play in Thursday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

However, McCaffrey might have pulled a ruse on the public.

The All-Pro almost immediately took off the red jersey in favor of a regular practice jersey, clouding his general status for this week.

McCaffrey can be seen above conversing with fellow backfield mate Mike Davis in his regular attire. Might this be an indication he will give it a go on Thursday?

The 24-year-old was placed on injured reserve after suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 2. He was eligible to return this past weekend, but Panthers head coach Matt Rhule almost immediately stated McCaffrey would not take the field against the New Orleans Saints.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported yesterday McCaffrey was considered a “long-shot” to play on Thursday. However, McCaffrey himself said he hoped to return sooner rather than later when he was first placed on IR. Perhaps the Panthers are merely trying to keep things under wraps on a short week.

Carolina could certainly use McCaffrey in the backfield. Davis has done an excellent job filling the role of a multi-purpose back, but he has accrued just 91 total yards combined in the last two weeks.

More consequently, the Panthers have had a hard time finishing off drives with touchdowns. Carolina ranks 27th in red zone scoring percentage and 25th in points despite ranking in the middle of the league in total yards gained.

McCaffrey specializes in and around the red zone, and could be a boon for a Panther team hoping to get back to .500.

Whether he is actually intent on playing or trying to throw off the media remains to be seen.