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Matt Rhule Addresses Christian McCaffrey's Week 8 Status

Matt Rhule at the NFL Scouting Combine.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 25: Head coach Matt Rhule of the Carolina Panthers interviews during the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule shared a very encouraging update on superstar running back Christian McCaffrey on Tuesday afternoon.

McCaffrey has spent the last several weeks on the Panthers' injured reserve list for a high ankle sprain. He suffered the injury in Week 2 when the Panthers played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

High ankle sprains can be a tricky injury, especially for running backs. A high ankle sprain typically never heals completely. It typically takes a full season to regain full strength. Most players simply have to choose whether or not to play through a weakened sprained ankle. It appears McCaffrey is choosing to do so.

McCaffrey returned to the practice field on Tuesday for the first time since Week 2. Head coach Matt Rhule had an encouraging update on his star back, saying he's "hopeful" McCaffrey can play as soon as this Thursday.

"Head coach Matt Rhule said at a press conference after McCaffrey took part in Tuesday’s practice that he’s 'hopeful' about having him in the backfield this week," writes Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. "Rhule added that the team would have to see how McCaffrey’s ankle responded to Tuesday’s work before making any further plans."

It's hard to believe Christian McCaffrey could actually return to the gridiron this Sunday. But it looks like there's a good possibility it could happen.

The Panthers will continue to evaluate McCaffrey's status this week before making a decision on his availability this week.

The Carolina Panthers play the Atlanta Falcons this week on Thursday Night Football.