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Christian McCaffrey may not play in Carolina's final preseason game

Panthers may save star running back for the regular season
Credit: AP
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule is playing it safe when it comes to Christian McCaffrey’s playing time in the preseason. 

Rhule said that while most of the team’s starters will play most of the first half in Carolina’s preseason finale Friday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, McCaffrey will be “very, very limited” - if he even plays at all. 

McCaffrey has not played in either of Carolina’s preseason losses with rookie Chuba Hubbard seeing the bulk of carries.

"He's going to take a lot of hits during the season," Rhule said. "More than anyone out on the field. We'll save those hits for the season."

After an All-Pro 2019 season, McCaffrey played just three games in 2020 due to several injuries.

"Approach it like you're playing in the whole game," McCaffrey said. "That's where my head is at."

He is again expected to be a big part of the Panthers offense, which is now led by new quarterback, Sam Darnold.

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