Source – Carolina Panthers RB Christian McFrey will not play Atlanta Falcons on Thursday

CHARLOTTE, NC – Carolina Panthers, who run behind Christian McFarlane, will not get a prime-time return from an ankle sprain, a league source confirmed to ESPN.

The Panthers (3-4-4) decided not to activate McCaffrey for Thursday night’s national television game against the Atlanta Falcons (1–6), meaning his possible return would be against the Kansas City Chiefs next week.

McCaffrey returned to practice on Monday and was scheduled to return from the injured reserve on Tuesday. But since it was a short week and McCaffrey didn’t have to go through the full study, the team chose to be careful.

McFarrey is not expected to play against Atlanta, the NFL Network first reported on Thursday.

McFarry was injured during a week-long defeat to Tampa Bay that sent the Panthers down 0-2. They went 3-2 without the league’s highest paid return, thanks in large part to traveling Mike Davis.

Davis has averaged more than 100 yards from scrimmage in his first four games, including 12 yards run and 24 in New Orleans during Sunday’s 27-24 loss.

The game where MC Affre would have helped the most is the running game in the Red Zone, where Carolina ranks 27th in the NFL in percentage of touchdowns. He scored four racing touchdowns in the first two games. Davis had just two games out of five.

Coach Matt Rule has blamed much of the Carolina Red Zone’s troubles on the lack of a running game within the 20s.

Earlier in the week when asked if McCaffrey would return this week or the next day, Rule said, “He won’t come a minute early.”