The Carolina Panthers are 3-0 for the first time since 2015, and it only cost them All-Pro Running Back Christian McCaffrey and Rookie DB Jaycee Horn.
During the second quarter of Thursday’s 24-9 win over the Houston Texans, McCaffrey was running towards the left side of the field when he injured his hamstring. On Friday, Matt Rhule said CMC is expected to miss a few weeks, but not to the point of an Injured Reserve listing.
As far as Horn is concerned, he and his family are debating whether or not to have surgery to repair the three broken bones in his foot.Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule didn’t rule out the possibility of shelving Horn for the season.
Injuries aside, here are takeaways from Week 3
Darnold Steps Up
Since McCaffrey will be unavailable for a while, it is up to Sam Darnold to shoulder most of the offensive load. In the second half of the game, that’s exactly what he did. He completed 23 of his 34 attempts for 304 yards and a rushing touchdown. What’s been impressive about Darnold thus far is his calmness and ability to recognize the moment. He knows when to manage a game (Jets) and when to step up and go for the win (Texans). What’s worth watching is if he will be able to keep this same energy when Carolina begin to face tougher defenses.
Moore Gets Loose
DJ Moore was able to carve up Houston’s secondary for eight receptions for 126 yards. After relatively quiet games against the Jets and the Saints, Moore was able to move the chains and contribute a huge share of the 407 total yards worth of offense. In CMC’s absence, Darnold will have to utilize both Moore and Anderson, and implement them in the short passing game in hopes of huge gains after the catch.
Defense Does It Again
Carolina’s defense held Houston to 1-for-9 on third down conversions and only 193 yards of total offense – including only allowing 42 rushing yards and just two first downs on the ground. Despite being a little bit reckless with the penalties (eight for 64 yards), the defense locked in and locked up. These performances, once again, show why this unit is considered among the best in the league. It will be interesting to watch their progress deep into the season against tougher offenses.
The Panthers will travel to Dallas next Sunday for a week 4 matchup against the Cowboys.