Panthers activate Christian McCaffrey; Darnold (shoulder) clears concussion protocol, status TBD

After weeks of playing incomplete, the Panthers offense has taken a major step toward being whole for Week 9.

Carolina announced Saturday that running back Christian McCaffrey, who's been out since Week 3 with a hamstring injury, has been activated from injured reserve and is poised to play against New England after a week of limited practices.

The Panthers also announced quarterback Sam Darnold cleared concussion protocol but will remain listed as questionable due to a shoulder injury. P.J. Walker would get the start if Darnold can't play.

McCaffrey's return couldn't have come soon enough for the club as it looks to build on last week's victory, a 19-13 triumph over the Falcons that snapped a three-game losing streak.

The do-it-all back will likely again be asked to do just that for an offense that grew stagnant with him out of the lineup. His presence should also take some attention off of receiver D.J. Moore, who defenses have looked to keep at bay because of his explosiveness.

As for Darnold, the opportunity to play will give him a chance to get back on track after struggling in recent weeks. He exited late against Atlanta after sustaining multiple injuries.

The Panthers host the Patriots at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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