It’s the time of year when seemingly no one in the NFL is entirely healthy, and the Carolina Panthers’ first practice of New Orleans Saints week reflected that.
Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, who has a sore shoulder, was among several starters who sat out Wednesday with injuries.
McCaffrey, who ranks fourth among rookies with 956 all-purpose yards, took a hit on his shoulder in Sunday’s win against the Jets. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said it was too early to know about McCaffrey’s status for Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. battle for first place in the NFC South.
“We’ll see (Thursday),” Rivera said. “A lot of these things, like I always tell you, it’s about what happens the next day.”
In addition to McCaffrey, veteran linebacker Thomas Davis (hamstring), wide receiver Devin Funchess (toe), cornerback Daryl Worley (foot) and tight end Greg Olsen (foot) also were out.
Rivera said the artificial surface at MetLife Stadium might have contributed to some of the foot injuries, including those sustained by Worley and Funchess.
“All I know is a couple of our guys complained about it,” Rivera said. “We’re fortunate. We practice on grass, we play on grass. And there’s a big different, there really is.”
The Panthers also had an issue with the artificial turf at the Patriots’ Gillette Stadium in Week 4, with backup safety Demetrius Cox blaming the soft surface for his season-ending ankle injury.
Rivera wouldn’t say whether he thought the field at MetLife Stadium, the home for the Jets and Giants, was a factor in Olsen aggravating his surgically repaired foot. Olsen returned from a two-month layoff last week, but left in the third quarter.
Davis, who pulled his hamstring chasing a ball-carrier late in the Jets game, and veteran edge rusher Julius Peppers left on a cart after individual drills Wednesday to return to the stadium. Peppers had the day off.
Four players were limited – quarterback Cam Newton (right thumb/right shoulder), center Ryan Kalil (neck), linebacker Shaq Thompson (foot) and safety Mike Adams (knee). Kalil was active for the Jets game, but did not play.