For the second straight year, Christian McCaffrey was forced to cut his season short. The Carolina Panthers placed their All-Pro running back on injured reserve for the second time in six weeks, bringing his fifth NFL season to a close after just seven games.
McCaffrey had a chance to address his season-ending diagnosis on Monday. In a post on Instagram, he expressed how disappointed he was to be done for the year and vowed to return to the Panthers better than ever.
“I love playing football and have dedicated my entire life to what I believe to be the greatest sport in the world. Getting healthy and back on the field this season has been my focus everyday from the time I wake up until I go to bed. I’ve put family, friends, and all other interests on hold so I can fully concentrate my efforts on treatment, training, practicing, studying, preparing, and playing the game I love at the highest level which is why my season coming to an abrupt end today leaves me devastated,” McCaffrey wrote on Instagram.
“I am thankful to everyone who continue to help and support me through this difficult time and promise I will fight with everything I have to return bigger, stronger, faster, and better than ever.”
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 29, 2021
An ankle injury proved to be the final straw for McCaffrey in 2021. After tallying just 10 carries for 35 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, the 25-year-old Panthers running back was seen leaving the stadium in a walking boot.
On Monday, Carolina announced that an MRI confirmed McCaffrey’s injury as season-ending.
The diagnosis brings an end to a frustrating year for the former first round pick. McCaffrey also sat out five games with a lingering hamstring injury, so he made just seven appearances for the Panthers this season.
When he was on the field, he wasn’t entirely his usual self. He ended his 2021 campaign with 442 rushing yards, 343 receiving yards and two total touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Panthers fell to 5-7 and the bottom of the NFC South with a loss to the Dolphins on Sunday. Carolina will now be without McCaffrey for the rest of the year and faces a difficult five-game stretch to close out the year.
Like their star running back, the Panthers might want to turn their focus to 2022.