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Matt Rhule Explains Why Christian McCaffrey Is Still Out

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 29: Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers warms up during their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

When the Carolina Panthers signed Christian McCaffrey to a record contract extension for a running back, they envisioned him being a the de facto "every down back." Unfortunately for Matt Rhule and his staff, he hasn't been able to stay on the field this year.

McCaffrey has managed to appear in just three games so far this season. He suffered a high ankle sprain during the team's Week 2 game, which knocked him out for over a month. He returned for a brief appearance in Week 9, but was sidelined again, this time by a shoulder injury.

As CMC worked his way back, he suffered yet another setback, tweaking a quad during practice. The team has hoped to get him back, but it doesn't look like it will be this weekend.

On Wednesday, Rhule said his star running back was "doubtful" for Sunday's game at the Washington Football Team. Now, it looks like he's definitely out, as Rhule says that he's "dying to get out there," but just isn't ready at this point.

The Panthers host the New Orleans Saints for their final game on Jan. 3. The team doesn't have much to play for beyond pride at this point, and has been eliminated from the playoffs at 4-10 on the season.

It's not surprising that Christian McCaffrey wants to play, but it probably doesn't make sense to risk any further injury to the star back that could jeopardize the start of the 2021 season, when the Carolina Panthers will hope to make a playoff push.

Sunday's game at Washington kicks off at 4:05 p.m. ET. Sixth-year veteran running back Mike Davis, who has stepped in to put up 987 total yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns on the season, is expected to be the bellcow for Rhule's team once again.