The Carolina Panthers have placed running back Christian McCaffrey and offensive lineman Deonte Brown on injured reserve. Brown was a recent, non-contact knee injury during practice. McCaffrey’s strained hamstring has been the subject of intense speculation for weeks now, after he injured the muscle against the Houston Texans in Week 3.
There will be a number of fans upset that the team didn’t place McCaffrey on injured reserve as soon as his hamstring was injured, but they will be applying a fair amount of hindsight bias to support their snap judgments. Hamstring strains are mercurial injuries and the Panthers had a reasonable hope of McCaffrey returning to the field in short order. An injured reserve designation requires a player to miss at least three games. McCaffrey will now miss no fewer than five games (the two he has missed, plus three from today), but the team had no way of knowing that at the initial time of his injury. The earliest we could see him back in action is November 7th against the Patriots.
I get the strategy, even if it hurts now. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Vikings present a much scarier schedule stretch than the Giants (Week 7) and the Falcons (Week 8). The team took a shot at McCaffrey being available to help against better teams, and then shuttered him when his hamstring hadn’t sufficiently recovered. As a fan, how is that not a preferred action for your team than asking a guy with an ankle injury to play when they still can’t run? You know, just as a hypothetical.
Brown, meanwhile, could be gone for the season. The team hasn’t shared any information beyond that he is working with a non contact knee issue. That is extremely vague, particularly when they would likely report an ACL/MCL injury as a matter of course. We’ll have more details for you as soon as the team shares them.