Carolina Panthers season on the brink after Christian McCaffrey was placed on IR

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey runs the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At 0-2 heading into Week 3, the Carolina Panthers’ season is already on the brink. A lot of that has to do with the defense struggling big time, both against the pass and stopping the run.

Unfortunately for first-year head coach Matt Rhule, Carolina will now be without its best player for at least the next three weeks.

Panthers place Christian McCaffrey on injured reserve

McCaffrey suffered the injury during Carolina’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past week. Ankle injuries are typically hard for running backs to return from in a quick manner. High-ankle sprains, the most severe of the lot, adds another layer to that.

This comes after McCaffrey put up 223 yards and a league-best four touchdowns through the first two games of the season. He’s obviously going to be missed.

Related: How injuries will impact NFL trade deadline

Christian McCaffrey stats

Signed to a record-breaking four-year, $64.06 million extension during the spring, McCaffrey put up an historical first three years in the NFL. That includes 5,443 total yards and 39 touchdowns.

McCaffrey is the first running back to catch 100-plus passes in consecutive seasons and broke the league record for receptions at that position with 116 last season. He’s also averaging a resounding 5.8 yards per touch throughout his young career.

Carolina Panthers schedule

The limited fans set to be on attendance as the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals Week 4 will not be able to see McCaffrey in action. Here’s a look at the three games he’s set to miss (at a minimum).

  • Week 3: AT- Los Angeles Chargers (preview, prediction)
  • Week 4: VS- Arizona Cardinals
  • Week 5: At- Atlanta Falcons

Related: Top 100 NFL players of 2020

There’s now a decent chance that Carolina starts the 2020 season with an 0-4 record. That’s not what first-year head coach Matt Rhule had in mind when he inked his contract with the Panthers.

McCaffrey’s injury is the latest in a long line of running backs to go down. That includes former NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley (ACL).

The hope here is that the Stanford product can be back for Carolina’s Week 6 affair with the Chicago Bears.