Carolina Panthers activate RB Christian McCaffrey for game vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Carolina Panthers activate RB Christian McCaffrey for game vs. Kansas City Chiefs
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Spears warns: Don’t sleep on the Panthers (1:18)

Ryan Clark picks the Chiefs to easily defeat the Panthers, and while Marcus Spears agrees he cautions that Carolina could sneak out a win with Christian McCaffrey back. (1:18)

9:27 AM ET

  • David NewtonESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered Panthers, NFL for 11 years
    • More than 25 years experience covering NFL, college football and NASCAR
    • Joined ESPN in 2006

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers on Saturday activated running back Christian McCaffrey from injured reserve to make him eligible for Sunday’s game at Kansas City.

The move comes as no surprise as coach Matt Rhule said Friday that McCaffrey was expected to be activated for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain during a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay.

Rhule wanted to make sure there were no setbacks Saturday when the Panthers (3-5) held their final practice before traveling to face the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs (7-1).

While most teams hold a light walk-through on Saturdays, Rhule puts his players through a full workout.

Rhule said how much McCaffrey is used depends on the running back and weather conditions. The forecast is for sunny skies with temperatures in the low 70s.

The concern is overworking McCaffrey, who has missed six games, by playing him too many consecutive plays. So don’t look for him to be on the field for 97% of the plays as he was in the opener — or even 93% as he was all of last season.

The Panthers enter the game with McCaffrey expected to share the load with Mike Davis, who has rushed for 350 yards and two touchdowns and caught 38 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns.

But as Rhule noted earlier in the week when discussing what McCaffrey brings that Davis doesn’t, is that “Christian is an elite player” who creates elite production.

In 2019, McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.

“He’s one of the best in the National Football League,” Rhule said. “Like any great player, you feel better about your chances when he’s there than what he’s not.”

The Panthers announced that left tackle Russell Okung had been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Okung missed practice Friday with a calf injury that also kept him out of Week 8’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

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