Panthers reportedly optimistic about Christian McCaffrey’s Week 4 status

Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey has missed two straight days of practice with a thigh injury. But there’s still a sense of optimism about his status for Week 4.

We may not have to go into code red just yet, Carolina Panthers fans.

On Thursday, running back Christian McCaffrey was missing from practice for the second straight session. The star rusher has been listed on the Week 4 injury report with a thigh issue, a setback sustained some time during this past Sunday’s victory over the New Orleans Saints.

Now, although McCaffrey’s absence is now particularly worrisome, there is some potentially good news. According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, there’s still a positive feeling about the oft-injured back’s chances of playing against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend.

Close to the vest, indeed.

The Panthers have provided little to no information regarding McCaffrey’s status for the game. Along with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo declining comment and quarterback Baker Mayfield jokingly referencing the absence, head coach Matt Rhule didn’t give up much about McCaffrey on Wednesday.

“He didn’t practice today, as normal,” he said. “Has a quad that he’s dealin’ with, so hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow. Check him day by day.”

So, we’ll just have to see what updates (or non-updates) will be provided on the next day.

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Panthers QB Baker Mayfield: Christian McCaffrey’s gone zero dark thirty on us

According to a playful Baker Mayfield, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey has gone “zero dark thirty” after missing two straight days of practice.

Very few people know where Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey was on Thursday. Baker Mayfield, apparently, is not one of those people.

For the second consecutive day, McCaffrey was absent from the team’s practice in the lead-up to their Week 4 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. The sixth-year veteran has gone down on the injury report with a thigh issue, one he sustained in this past Sunday’s 22-14 win over the New Orleans Saints.

As far as getting some answers to McCaffrey’s whereabouts, reporters swung and missed. Head coach Matt Rhule doesn’t speak on Thursdays, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo declined comment and his quarterback, well, doesn’t seem so sure either.

“Nah,” Mayfield said when asked if he knows what’s up with McCaffrey. “He’s gone zero-dark thirty on us. Ya know? Just keeping us guessing.”

Mayfield, of course, was being a tad playful with his answer.

He wasn’t, though, playing around with what he prefaced that bit with. Mayfield believes, even without McCaffrey, that they have guys who’ll be ready to go if needed.

“We trust our guys to step up,” Mayfield said. “I mean, we have Chuba Hubbard and [D’Onta] Foreman back there and they’ve played a lot of ball. So expecting them to be able to take that place, to know the game plan, to execute. We trust those guys. Obviously, it changes a defense’s outlook on our offense—whether it’s bringing multiple guys to kinda take Christian away or loading up the box for the run game. So, we’ll see.”

That wait-and-see approach will likely continue throughout the weekend—as the Panthers and their fans brace for some potentially disheartening news.

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Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey missing from Thursday’s practice

Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey was not seen during the early portion of Thursday’s practice after sitting out the session prior.

Uh oh.

After three weeks of small scares for Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, we may have our first real one of the 2022 season.

For the second straight day, McCaffrey was not spotted during the early portion of practice ahead of Week 4’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. The team’s star rusher did not participate during yesterday’s session and was listed on the initial injury report with a thigh issue.

Head coach Matt Rhule didn’t give the most encouraging of assurances on Wednesday either. When asked of McCaffrey’s status, Rhule said they’ll be taking his injury by the day.

“He didn’t practice today, as normal,” he said. “Has a quad that he’s dealin’ with, so hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow. Check him day by day.”

Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, additionally, declined to comment on the situation prior to today’s practice.

McCaffrey, of course, has succumb to the injury bug quite a few times in recent seasons. The now sixth-year veteran missed 23 of a possible 33 games between 2020 and 2021.

Here is the full injury report on the day:

Injury Wed. Thurs. Fri. Game status
RB Christian McCaffrey Thigh DNP DNP
CB Jaycee Horn Calf Limited Full
TE Ian Thomas Ankle Limited Limited
CB Stantley Thomas-Oliver III Achilles Limited Limited
S Xavier Woods Hamstring Limited Limited
WR Laviska Shenault Jr. Hamstring Limited DNP
DE Marquis Haynes Sr. Knee DNP
LB Frankie Luvu Shoulder Limited

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Panthers WR Terrace Marshall Jr. named early-season trade candidate

PFF’s Brad Spielberger tabbed Terrace Marshall Jr. as an early-season trade candidate. But he can also see the Panthers acquiring another WR in need of a change.

Carolina Panthers wideout Terrace Marshall Jr. has gone from a breakout candidate to a left-out one in a span of just a year. And now, he might be on the way out at some point this season.

That’s the thinking from Pro Football Focus salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger, who listed Marshall Jr. as one of nine early-season trade targets this week. Spielberger believes Marshall Jr., especially with Sunday’s emergence of another recent second-round receiver, may no longer have a place in Carolina.

“Marshall was a healthy scratch in Week 3 and is squarely in the doghouse in Carolina it appears, as the team got Laviska Shenault Jr. up to speed and on the field after acquiring him via trade before Marshall even took his first snap this season,” he writes. “Marshall was a second-round draft pick just last season, but his NFL career has hardly gotten off the ground thus far, and unlike with Denzel Mims and the Jets, it’s not due to the fact Carolina is loaded with pass-catchers. In fact, the opposite is true, which makes his lack of usage all the more concerning.”

Despite an eye-opening preseason to his rookie campaign, Marshall Jr. didn’t move the needle in 2021—amassing just 138 receiving yards over 17 catches. Unfortunately, that needle remains untouched by the 22-year-old, who has recorded six more snaps than he has targets thus far in 2022. (He has zero targets.)

Spielberger then suggests the Panthers could trade the 2021 draftee to the receiver-needy Green Bay Packers for a 2024 fifth-round pick.

“The Packers would have to convince themselves that a change of scenery would jumpstart Marshall’s pro career, getting him back to looking like a guy who could hang with Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase as the youngest of the dynamic LSU wide receiver trio in 2019,” he adds. “Here, they give up a fifth-round pick despite very little production thus far for Marshall because there are still three years remaining on his rookie contract.”

Oh, and it’s also worth noting that the piece suggests the Panthers trade for New York Jets wideout Denzel Mims. Hey, at least he already knows the guy who runs the place.

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Panthers’ Jaycee Horn leads all CBs in passer rating allowed

Through three games this season, Jaycee Horn has allowed the lowest passer rating amongst all NFL cornerbacks.

It was never a matter of if Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn would be good. It was just a matter of when.

And “when” might be right now.

On Wednesday, Pro Football Focus called attention to the league’s stingiest cornerbacks. When it comes to the lower passer rating allowed through three games, Horn is right at the top.

2021’s eighth overall pick was well on his way to widespread recognition in his rookie campaign, at least before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. Horn, in 95 coverage snaps last season, had allowed just one catch for eight yards over five targets.

Well, he’s picked up where he left off. In his 119 coverage snaps to this point, Horn has been targeted just 11 times—allowing only five grabs for 35 yards.

He’s fresh off his top performance of 2022 as well. In addition to grabbing his second career interception off the same man he grabbed his first career interception from, he saw just three balls tossed his away in 42 coverage snaps—with those looks combining for zero receptions.

Like we said, it’s when o’clock.

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Brian Burns on Panthers’ dominance of Cardinals: ‘It means something’

There might be something to the Panthers’ reign of terror over the Cardinals.

The Carolina Panthers achieve a unique type of mode whenever they play the Arizona Cardinals—greatness on a different level, some may say. And according to Brian Burns, we must at least acknowledge it.

On Wednesday, the fourth-year defensive end was asked about his team’s run of dominance over their Week 4 opponent. Not only have the Panthers secured each of their past six meetings against the Cardinals, with two of those coming in the playoffs, but they boast a 14-5 all-time mark in the series—a record that amounts to their highest win percentage (.737) over any team.

So Burns, who’s been around for the last three victories in the matchup, said there has to be something to it.

“It means something,” he said. “From history, it seems like we’ve always had their number. Always had it out for them. I like those games. It’s always physical. It’s always a tough game. And especially from the defensive point of view. But yeah, I look forward to it. And yeah, we’re gonna get after them again.”

He’s gotten after them himself a bit when seeing red. Between Carolina’s clashes with Arizona in 2019, 2020 and 2021, Burns has totaled 1.0 sacks, six quarterback hits and two tackles for a loss.

Things, however, will be a little different on Sunday than they were last season—when the Panthers upended a Colt McCoy-led 8-1 Cardinals squad in Cam Newton’s 2021 return. Now, they’ll have their starting quarterback under center, someone Burns is still quite familiar with . . .

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Panthers HC Matt Rhule calls Cardinals QB Kyler Murray ‘rare, rare, rare’ player

In 2018, Sooners QB Kyler Murray passed for 432 yards and scored seven touchdowns against the Baylor Bears—a performance Panthers HC Matt Rhule still feels the effects of today.

Three games into the season, the Arizona Cardinals look far from the playoff contender they were a year ago. And even if they did, they still probably wouldn’t scare the Carolina Panthers—who have wins over the redbirds in each of their last six meetings.

Regardless, they still have a boogeyman under center—one who head coach Matt Rhule is all too familiar with.

When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Rhule was asked of his Week 4 opponent in quarterback Kyler Murray. He’d heap a tremendous amount of praise on the former No. 1 overall pick, and even threw it back to their unforgettable matchup in college.

“I think he’s one of the rare, rare, rare athletic players I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said with a smile. “I saw him do things on the college football field that made me wanna just walk off the field. We sacked him, we knocked the ball out of his hands, it bounced on the ground three times, he picked it up and threw it for an 18-yard first down. He’s one of the most amazing players I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Well, you can’t blame Rhule for thinking that, especially given what else happened in that game. Rhule’s Baylor Bears would be absolutely thrashed by the Oklahoma Sooners and Murray, who threw for 432 yards and six touchdowns off of just 17 completions in a 66-33 win. (Oh, and the future Heisman Trophy winner also rushed for 45 more yards and another score.)

Rhule then went on to give Murray props for everything he does now—at the pro level.

“What I love about him is he runs the whole system, he’s out there checkin’ plays, he’s gettin’ ’em in the right looks, he’s checkin’ the runs,” he added. “I mean, he’s not just, ‘Hey, this guy’s talented.’ He’s skilled. There’s a big difference. Lots of guys are talented. He is skilled.”

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Murray will be (by far) the most talented and skilled quarterback they’ve faced yet in 2022.

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Panthers add LB Arron Mosby back to practice squad

After signing DT Daviyon Nixon to their active roster, the Panthers brought rookie LB Arron Mosby back to their practice squad on Wednesday.

On Wednesday morning, the Carolina Panthers successfully completed a little exchange between their active roster and practice squad.

As reported by Darin Gantt of Panthers.com, the team has brought back linebacker Arron Mosby—who was waived late Monday afternoon—to the latter group. The rookie defender now accounts as the 16th member of the practice squad.

Mosby began the 2022 slate as one of those 16 reserves, and was called up as a standard elevation in both of Carolina’s first two games. He, in his only action thus far, recorded 16 snaps on special teams in Week 2 against the New York Giants.

That spot was temporarily left open due to Tuesday’s move, one which returned defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon to the 53-man roster. The 2021 fifth-round selection was also waived earlier this season in a somewhat surprising decision following the addition of fellow defensive lineman Henry Anderson on Sept. 5.

Nixon played nine defensive snaps in Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints.

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Panthers sign DT Daviyon Nixon back to active roster

DT Daviyon Nixon is back on the Panthers’ active roster.

Well, that didn’t take too long.

On Tuesday morning, the Carolina Panthers announced they’ve signed defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon back to their active roster. The second-year defender officially rejoins the group following a bit of early-season shuffling.

Nixon was waived back on Sept. 5, when the team had to make room for an incoming free-agent signee and fellow defensive lineman—Henry Anderson. Just a day later, after clearing waivers, Nixon was added to the Carolina’s practice squad to begin the 2022 regular season.

This past Saturday, right before their Week 3 matchup against the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints, the 23-year-old was elevated from the practice squad to the game day roster. He notched one tackle (a stop) over nine snaps in the 22-14 victory.

His addition gets the Panthers back up to 53 men. The day prior, they waived linebacker Arron Mosby—who served as the team’s standard elevation for the first two weeks.

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Panthers waive LB Arron Mosby

Less than a week after signing him to the active roster, the Panthers waived LB Arron Mosby on Monday.

The Carolina Panthers have Arron Mosby on the move again. But this time, it’ll be a move off their roster.

As announced by the team on Monday afternoon, the rookie linebacker has now been waived. This news comes less than a week after the Panthers signed Mosby to their active roster from the practice squad.

Mosby has been in uniform for each of Carolina’s three games this season. He was a standard elevation off the practice squad in the first two outings, with his only action coming in 16 snaps on special teams against the New York Giants in Week 2.

The 6-foot-4, 248-pound backer signed on with Carolina as an undrafted free agent in the spring. He spent five collegiate campaigns at Fresno State, where he amassed 156 tackles, 6.0 sacks, two interceptions and nine forced fumbles between 2017 and 2021.

With Mosby now off the active roster, the Panthers have an open spot to fill.

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