CHARLOTTE — The Panthers had been easing running back Christian McCaffrey back into action, but that progress stopped Thursday.
McCaffrey did not participate in Thursday’s practice because of his hamstring injury.
He had practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, as well as in the three practices last week.
McCaffrey suffered the initial injury on Sept. 23 at Houston, and has missed the last two games.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday that McCaffrey was “50-50” to play against the Vikings Sunday, but said it would depend on how he responded each day.
Rhule doesn’t talk to reporters on Thursday, but offensive coordinator Joe Brady said before practice that adjusting was part of his planning each week.
“We come in after every game, and you don’t know if this guy’s going to play or how much this guy is going to be able to go. It’s part of the profession,” Brady said. “We have to be ready, and everybody has to be ready, and we have to be ready for certain people to be down. You kind of know, there’s an understanding the same 11 week-to-week aren’t going to be there, and that’s why you have to field a team.
“Christian not being there, the games he has or hasn’t been, it’s not like you’re deflated or anything like that. I have confidence in the room. I feel like the running backs, going back to last year, have made the most of their opportunities. So I feel confident when those guys are out there, and when Christian’s out there, he’s a difference-maker. But that doesn’t change your mindset and mentality.”
While they aren’t the same as McCaffrey, Brady said the team has to be ready to adapt.
“I think there are differences in how defenses play you when 22’s back there,” Brady said. “That’s not anything about our current running backs. Christian McCaffrey is one of the elite players in the NFL. So I do think there’s something to it, but it’s nothing where ‘Oh man, we lost our whole offense’ because we have one guy out. We have enough playmakers on this team, that I have to do a better job of getting the ball in their hands, and we have to execute at a higher level.”
The news wasn’t all bad, however.
He’s not going to play this week, but being out of a boot and on his feet with a jersey on is a sign of progress. He missed last week’s game after playing through the injury in Dallas.
The Panthers added backup linebacker Kamal Martin to the injury report Thursday with a concussion. He had been getting more and more work, and growing into a role on defense. He played 17 snaps on special teams last week.
Prior to practice, they put punter Joseph Charlton on injured reserve, after he was listed with a back injury Wednesday.