This article is part of our Injury Analysis series.
After missing six weeks with a high ankle sprain, the Panthers running back was finally back in action in Week 9 and looked every bit the guy who people took with the top overall pick in most drafts. McCaffrey finished with 69 rushing yards, 82 receiving yards on 10 receptions and found the endzone twice. Unfortunately, his return could be brief, as he sustained a new injury late in the game.
Initially ruled a rib injury, the injury is now being listed as a right shoulder injury. While the Panthers have been tight-lipped on the specifics, the two differential diagnoses and the manner in which the injury occurred could provide some clues as to what McCaffrey is dealing with. My guess is he is dealing with a sprain to one of the joints located at the ends of the clavicle (collarbone). The collarbone is a crucial part of the shoulder. The first point of articulation is the sternoclavicular (SC) joint located where the collarbone meets the sternum (breastbone). Injuries here can be particularly worrisome due to neighboring nerves and blood vessels in the area. On the opposite end of the collarbone, closer to the tip of the shoulder, sits the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The AC joint is routinely sprained in football, especially if a player is driven into the ground. AC sprains occur in varying degrees involving the multiple ligaments that fortify the joint.
If McCaffrey did in fact sprain either joint, he is at risk for missing