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Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey will not return tonight vs. Falcons 

Christian McCaffrey will have to wait another week before suiting up for a return.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Carolina Panthers did not activate CMC from injured reserve a head of tonight's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

The running back returned to practice this week but was always a long shot to play on Thursday Night Football even as he pushed to play. Evidently, McCaffrey couldn't convince coaches he was ready to return just yet.

McCaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 2 that will now keep him out six weeks, which was at the tail end of his original timetable. The Panthers always planned to play it safe with their dual-threat star. Holding him out Thursday is simply a continuation of that process.

After putting up a 1,000/1,000 season in 2019, CMC has earned 156 yards on 41 rushes with four touchdowns and added seven receptions for 67 yards in two games under new Panthers head coach Matt Rhule.

While Carolina won its first three games sans McCaffrey, losses the past two weeks have underscored how much the Panthers miss their field-tilting weapon out of the backfield. When he eventually returns, McCaffrey will make life much easier on QB Teddy Bridgewater.

For now, the Panthers will continue to ride Mike Davis on Thursday night against Atlanta. In five starts since McCaffrey injured his ankle, Davis has compiled 283 yards on 70 carries with two TDs. The last two games, however, haven't been as easy for the Panthers run game, as Davis took just seven carries for 12 yards in Week 7. In the past two games, Davis has averaged just 2.56 yards per rush attempt.

Against a Falcons defense that has been torched through the air but solid against the run (sixth-best through Week 7, allowing just 92.4 rush yards per game), expect Rhule's game plan to focus on airing it out once again.

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