Panthers star Christian McCaffrey activated from IR

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Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey has been activated from the injured reserve and is expected to make his return on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs after missing the last six weeks with a high ankle sprain.

Head coach Matt Rhule said wouldn't reveal how much he would play but said he anticipates him playing.

"I want to see Mike Davis continue to play and continue to play at a high level," Rhule said. "So there will be a football part to that where we have two guys we know we can win with. But at the same time, there'd have to be a conversation with the medical people."

McCaffrey was designated to return from the injured reserve last week and after the team decided not to rush him back against the New Orleans Saints last Thursday night, he had 10 more days to prepare for his return.

The Panthers went 3-3 in his absence and are expecting to get a huge boost by getting his production back.

"Christian brings elite production," head coach Matt Rhule said. "Days when you're not great on third down, he's a tremendous third-down matchup. Explosive runs, catching the ball out of the backfield, he's one of the best players in the NFL."

Running back Mike Davis has started in McCaffrey's place the last six games and has totaled 519 yards from scrimmage in those games along with four touchdowns.

"Mike's a starting running back," Rhule said. "He's proved what he can do at a really high level. I know we'll have a plan to utilize all those guys."

It remains to be seen how Carolina will continue using Davis along with McCaffrey, who had played in at least 92 percent of the Panthers offensive snaps in each of the last two seasons.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady only had the two backs play in one snap together before McCaffrey was injured.

"I think whenever you have everybody available there's a lot of possibilities," Brady said. "You have two guys that can catch the ball out of the backfield and run the ball. It gives you matchups that you kind of look into and see if you want to take advantage of that. Everything is on the table this week for sure."

McCaffrey became the third player ever to rush and receive for 1,000 yards last season and was rewarded with a four-year, $64 million contract extension this offseason, making him the highest-paid running back in league history.

The Panthers also activated rookie defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos from the IR on Saturday.

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