Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) is on IR. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

At 0-2 heading into Week 3, the Carolina Panthers’ season is already on the brink. A lot of that has to do with the defense struggling both against the pass and stopping the run.

Unfortunately for first-year head coach Matt Rhule, Carolina will now be without its best player for at least the next three weeks after the team placed star running back Christian McCaffrey on injured reserve.

McCaffrey suffered the injury during Carolina’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past week. Ankle injuries are typically hard for running backs to return from in a quick manner, particularly high-ankle sprains.

This comes after McCaffrey put up 223 yards and a league-best four touchdowns through the first two games of the season. He’s obviously going to be missed.

Signed to a record-breaking, four-year, $64.06 million extension during the spring, McCaffrey put up a historical first three years in the NFL that included 5,443 total yards and 39 touchdowns.

McCaffrey is the first running back to catch 100-plus passes in consecutive seasons and broke the league record for receptions at that position with 116 last season. He’s also averaging a resounding 5.8 yards per touch throughout his young career.

The limited fans set to be on attendance as the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals Week 4 will not be able to see McCaffrey in action. Here’s a look at the three games he’s set to miss (at a minimum):

  • Week 3: AT- Los Angeles Chargers
  • Week 4: VS- Arizona Cardinals
  • Week 5: At- Atlanta Falcons

There’s now a decent chance that Carolina starts the 2020 season with an 0-4 record. That’s not what first-year head coach Matt Rhule had in mind when he inked his contract with the Panthers.

The hope is that the Stanford product can be back for Carolina’s Week 6 affair with the Chicago Bears.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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