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Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey a long shot to return Thursday vs. Falcons

For Christian McCaffrey to return in Week 8, the running back will have to convince the Carolina Panthers' coaches he can give it a go.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported CMC is considered a long shot to play Thursday versus the Atlanta Falcons, per a source informed of the situation. Still, the Panthers haven't ruled him out, and the RB is pushing to play.

McCaffrey will work back into practice early this week and see if he can make enough progress to play, Rapoport added.

Coach Matt Rhule addressed McCaffrey's availability during his Monday media session.

"I think it's a possibility. That's sort of out of my hands. I'm hopeful that we'll have him," he said before adding that McCaffrey was not designated to return yet and he must be before he can practice.

There was some initial thought that the running back might be able to return in Week 8 after missing the past five games due to a high-ankle sprain.

Mike Davis performed well in McCaffery's absence until getting stuffed for just 12 yards on seven attempts in Sunday's 27-24 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Carolina got off to a spunky 3-2 start on the year before losing the last two weeks to potential playoff teams, Chicago and New Orleans. The past couple of games, the Panthers missed CMC's field-tilting presence.

The Panthers need the dynamic dual-threat back if they're to remain on the fringe of the playoffs as we press into November. Carolina, however, won't put the face of the franchise in danger if he isn't fully healthy.

Expect CMC to push coaches to return Thursday night, but early in the week, the plan is to play it cautious. We'll see if McCaffrey changes their mind.

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