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Panthers' McCaffrey is leaning in the direction of the return of the Solar.

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CHARLOTTE, NC – Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey "is going in the right direction" to return from the injured reserve for Sunday's game in Kansas City, Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Thursday.

"If we played now, he could play," said Rhule.

The team has until 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to activate McCaffrey, who has missed the last six games since contracting an ankle sprain in Week 2 against Tampa Bay. Rhule wants to make sure there aren't any setbacks in the next few days before officially committing to a return.

But Rhule likes what he's seen out of the top-paying league at $ 16 million a year for the past two days.

Christian McCaffrey has been out since the second half of the Panthers & # 39; Week 2 game against the Bucs. Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

"Christian looked good today," said Rhule. "He looked fresh and quick. He has recovered well from yesterday. & # 39; & # 39;

McCaffrey returned to practice last week and was labeled to return but was not taken off the IR with just a few practice sessions and a short week in preparation for a Thursday night game against Atlanta.

McCaffrey did his first padded workout since Week 2 on Wednesday and showed no setbacks. He cut sharp cuts and showed big bursts of speed during Thursday's media portion of the workout.

"He looks like Christian McCaffrey," said offensive coordinator Joe Brady, which means McCaffrey looked like the player who was the third player in NFL history a year ago to dash and receive 1,000 yards that same season.

As for the Panthers' use of McCaffrey and Mike Davis, Brady said, "It's all on the table, for sure."

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Melinda Martin