Carolina Panthers lose Christian McCaffrey to strained hamstring, Jaycee Horn to broken foot

HOUSTON -- Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey left Thursday night's game against the Texans with a strained hamstring, and Carolina later lost first-round pick Jaycee Horn to a broken right foot.

The injuries, confirmed by coach Matt Rhule, soured a night that saw the Panthers beat the Texans 24-9 to move to 3-0 for just the fifth time in team history.

Rhule said the team doesn't know the severity of McCaffrey's injury. The star running back will undergo additional tests.

Quarterback Sam Darnold said he talked to McCaffrey after the game and described him as "sad.'' Darnold also had a message for McCaffrey, believing he'll be back this season.

"Just that I'm thinking of him and to take his time,'' he said. "We'll be all right without him. Obviously, we want him back. But I want him to take his time and make sure he's good for the end of the season.''

Left tackle Cam Erving said losing McCaffrey will hurt, but he believes the Panthers can sustain their early success.

"We're a football team,'' he said. "We're not the Carolina Christian McCaffreys.''

McCaffrey was hurt making a run to the left on first-and-10 from the Texans' 14-yard line in the second quarter. He appeared to stutter step to avoid the defender and went immediately to the sideline after a 2-yard gain.

McCaffrey stayed in the sideline medical tent for 22 minutes before emerging and heading to the locker room. He walked under his own power with a slight limp.

McCaffrey was replaced by Chuba Hubbard, a 2021 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State. Hubbard finished with 52 yards on 11 carries while adding three catches for 27 yards.

Early in the third quarter, the Panthers also lost Horn, the No. 8 overall pick, after he suffered a non-contact injury to his right foot. Horn was taken to the locker room on a golf cart and was later ruled out for the game.

There was no immediate word on how long he'll be sidelined with the break.

"We love those guys,'' Rhule said. "We're going to help them get better. Jaycee will be back. Jaycee Horn is a special, special, special football player.''

Horn, the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, was inserted immediately into the starting lineup and played a big role in Carolina becoming the league's top-ranked defense after two games.

McCaffrey, who in 2019 became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season, entered the game as the league leader in yards from scrimmage with 324 yards.

He missed 13 games last season due to multiple injuries, including a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 2. He returned this season looking stronger than ever.

He left late in the third quarter of last weekend's win against the New Orleans Saints to get a couple of IV bags for what he called "onset cramps.'' He said earlier this week he was good go to.