CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey and quarterback Sam Darnold showed up for practice on Wednesday in full pads. However, their status for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots remained very much up in the air.
McCaffrey, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury, has been designated for return from injured reserve and the team has 21 days to decide whether to activate him on the 53-man roster.
Darnold remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol, although his attendance at practice is a positive sign.
McCaffrey went through individual drills and was seen skipping across the field and appeared to be in good spirits during the 20 minutes of practice that was open to the media. Darnold had left the field before media arrived.
The Panthers (4-4) are looking to build off last week’s 19-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons, which snapped a four-game losing steak.
If Darnold can’t play, P.J. Walker would get the start at quarterback and either James Morgan or Josh Love would be his backup. Both are currently on the practice squad. Walker has started one game in the NFL, leading the Panthers to a win over the Detroit Lions last season.
Chuba Hubbard has been handling the majority of reps at running back for the Panthers with McCaffrey sidelined. Hubbard has run for 391 yards and two touchdowns this season while averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
McCaffrey, an All-Pro in 2019, was off to the strong start before going down in the first half of Carolina’s Week 3 against the Houston Texans. He had 364 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown through the first 10 quarters of the season. He hasn’t played since.
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