Panthers: Christian McCaffrey unlikely to play in preseason

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey likely won’t play in any preseason games to try to keep him healthy for the 2022 season, coach Matt Rhule said Tuesday.

The Panthers are seeking to find the magic again with McCaffrey, who has been riddled with injuries since his All-Pro season of 2019.

He didn’t play in the preseason in 2021, either, and Rhule said the team is going to have to come up with a wise approach for McCaffrey for the whole season.

“I would hold him out of all the preseason games again,” Rhule said following Tuesday’s voluntary organized team activities. “I think he’s had enough hits on his body. But I think, just as we move forward, we’re gonna have a little bit of a different strategy practice-wise with him.”

McCaffrey played 91 percent of the team’s offensive snaps in 2018.

In 2019, McCaffrey played 93 percent of the Panthers’ offensive snaps and led the NFL with 2,392 yards from scrimmage. Of them, 1,387 were rushing yards, and he ran for 15 touchdowns.

He added 116 catches for 1,005 yards and four touchdowns.

After that season, McCaffrey signed a four-year, $64 million contract extension. And because of a variety of injuries, he’s played in just 10 of 33 games over two seasons, totaling 1,159 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns.

McCaffrey, who turns 26 next month, said Tuesday that he has sought the advice of Marshall Faulk, one of only three players — Roger Craig the other — to tally at least 1,000 receiving and 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.

“Just listening to what he had to say and the different things that he did in the offseason at different points,” McCaffrey said of his conversations with Faulk. “Injuries or not, sometimes you have to change your offseason and your approach.”