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Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey not worried about limited training but still expects to play Saints

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
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Christian McCaffrey saw a greater workload in the Panthers’ Week 2 loss to the Giants, totaling 19 hits as one of Carolina’s top weapons in an otherwise dismal offensive display. But the star’s decline is a question mark as Sunday’s matchup with the Saints approaches. McCaffrey appeared in just 10 games in the previous two seasons and returned to injury report on Thursday. The former Pro Bowler is still expected to play in Week 3 against the Saints, according to the team’s official websitebut was limited in practice with ankle stiffness.

Ankle and hamstring injuries are responsible for McCaffrey’s previous extended absence. Depending on his availability on Friday for practice, the running back may be officially considered doubtful for Sunday’s league game. He also appeared on the injury report prior to Week 1 after his leg was cut by a cleat during practice, but he remained a full participant at the time.

McCaffrey himself doesn’t sound concerned, though.

“I feel great,” he said after training, per Panthers.com, before joking about its durability. “I think if I started leaking in training right now, I would end up on the report.”

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Anyway, the development is worth following. McCaffrey is generally one of the NFL’s best all-purpose players when healthy, registering 80 catches in each of his first three seasons. He averaged nearly seven yards per carry in Week 2 against the Giants. But he hasn’t played a full season in three years and the Panthers (0-2) could use all the offensive help they can get.

In the event that McCaffrey can’t pass on Sunday, or takes on a reduced workload, sophomore backup Chuba Hubbard could be lining up for an uptick in carries. Ditto for veteran D’Onta Foreman, the former Texans and Titans reserve who took four carries in the first two games.

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