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Panthers Thoughts: Apple Sent Packing, McCaffrey Returns, Working on a Short Week

Sitting at 3-4 after seven games, the Panthers are working on a short week as they get ready to kickoff week eight in the NFL as they will be home to take on the Falcons Thursday night.

The club had a great chance to flip that record into being 4-3, but they couldn’t close out the Saints Sunday in the SuperDome, and even a desperation field goal from 65 yards out probably wasn’t the smartest choice by Matt Rhule and the coaches to try and tie the game up.

Even so, the way things looked this offseason being 3-4 seven games in with this young team is probably better or as good as anyone really expected.

Here’s a couple things on the Panthers docket as the team gets ready for Thursday.

* Apple Shown the Door

The Panthers said “so long” Tuesday to often injured cornerback Eli Apple, who signed a one-year, $3 million deal in May, but he was active for only two games due to injuries.

He left the team’s practice on Tuesday with yet another hamstring issue, and that seemed to be the final straw.

There was no doubt that it was not a match made in heaven, and that despite the Panthers getting Apple for a discounted price, it simply wasn’t going to work out with Apple not able to stay healthy.

* Christian Back to Work

Sunday against the Saints, the Panthers managed just 37 yards on 14 carries, a 2.6 yards per carry average, with a long of seven yards.

Those numbers should go up dramatically this Thursday as the team welcomes back leading rusher and the best overall player on the team, Christian McCaffery.

It will be a huge boost to get McCaffery back after missing the last five games with an ankle injury.

“We let him know we’re pulling the trigger on this thing,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said.

“He was excited and exhilarated to be there today. I know he wants to play. He’s also a process guy and knows you can’t shortcut the process.”

Expect to see a LOT of McCaffery on Thursday against a very bad Falcons defense.

* All Eyes on Thursday

The Panthers 2020 slate will get very tough the two weeks after they take on the Falcons this Thursday, as the team will play at Kansas City against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs on November 8th, and then the week after they will play at home against Tom Brady and the Bucs.

The two games after that feature the Lions and Vikings, but the team cannot afford a letdown against the 1-6 Falcons this week.

One thing that the Panthers have to remember is that the Falcons only win has come on the road, so they can’t just assume to throw their helmets on the field and it’ll be a win.

Look for the Panthers defense to make it a long night for the Falcons offense, but the Cats have to be aware at all times where Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are.

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