By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You may recall that four years ago, Richard Sherman ripped the NFL for making players play games on three days of rest for Thursday Night Football. Sherman tore his Achilles in a Thursday night game, and he said the NFL was hypocritically standing up for “player safety” while ignoring the risks involved with playing games when their bodies have not had sufficient time to recover from the previous game.
While Sherman’s belief doesn’t always come to fruition, it was difficult to not hear his words on Thursday night, when two high-profile Panthers players suffered non-contact injuries.
First, it was Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers’ do-it-all running back, who left the game after pulling a hamstring on a run early in the second quarter. McCaffrey headed straight to the medical tent on the sideline, where he remained for several minutes before being ruled out for the rest of the game.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 24, 2021
On the opening drive of the second half, it was cornerback Jaycee Horn who fell in a heap in the middle of the field.
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiTV) September 24, 2021
Safety Juston Burris also suffered a groin injury on the snap before Horn’s injury.
The No. 8 overall pick from this year’s draft, Horn may have broken multiple bones in his foot on the play. He may be out for as long as three months.
#Panthers stud CB Jaycee Horn will be looked at this morning more extensively, but the fear is he broke multiple bones in the metatarsal area in his foot, sources said. Surgery is an option & likely looking at 2-3 month recovery. That means a late-season return or season-ending.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 24, 2021
The outlook for McCaffrey isn’t yet known.
“Christian strained his hamstring. I don’t know the severity level of it yet, to be quite honest with you, but the minute it happened, they said he’s out for the game,” Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said after Carolina’s costly win over Houston. “I just saw him in there and he’s moving around, but obviously, we’re going to have to wait on an MRI to see what the severity is.”
Rhule said that McCaffrey’s injury was not related to the running back’s issues with cramps in last week’s game. Rhule was asked if the short turnaround from Sunday to Thursday — with travel to Houston — might have contributed to the injuries, and he didn’t rule out that possibility.
“I don’t know. I mean, that’s a good question. I think the quick turnaround, but every team does it,” Rhule said. “We’ve been pretty healthy so far. A lot of other teams have come into these games and they’ve been down guys. When it comes to a broken bone, non contact, I don’t know if that’s that, but maybe some of pulls could be. But it is what it is. We are where we are.”
Whether the lack of recovery time from Sunday’s game contributed to the three injuries on Thursday night can’t be known. But for as long as the NFL continues to push players to suit up just four days after playing in an NFL game, Sherman’s words about player safety will always bring about the question of just how safe these Thursday games really are.