CHARLOTTE — The Panthers on Saturday activated running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos from the designated to return list to the 53-man roster.
For McCaffrey, the expected move makes him eligible to play in Sunday's game against the Chiefs, his first game since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2.
"I would anticipate him playing," head coach Matt Rhule said Friday.
That said, Rhule wasn't sure if the Panthers would limit McCaffrey's touches and snaps. One factor could be weather and field conditions, though Kansas City's forecast is for partly cloudy skies and 73 degrees. Or McCaffrey could get to the stadium on Sunday and may not feel right.
"Activating someone doesn't mean we'll have them in a jersey," Rhule said. "I think there's a lot of things that still have to happen."
When it comes to playing time, McCaffrey is rarely on the sidelines during an offensive drive. He played over 90 percent of the unit's snaps in 2018 and 2019, a particularly high figure for a running back.
The Panthers do have Mike Davis to lighten the potential load. His 594 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns have proven that he can be a valuable piece.
"I want to see Mike Davis continue to play and continue to play at a high level. So there will be a football part to that where we have two guys we know we can win with," Rhule said. "But at the same time, there'd have to be a conversation with the medical people."
McCaffrey suffered his high ankle sprain in the second half of the Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay. Before the injury, he had never missed a game in his four-year NFL career.
In two games this season, McCaffrey has recorded 223 yards from scrimmage and four rushing touchdowns.
"You can tell that he's just eager to just get back out there," quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. "We've watched how hard he's worked. He's a true grinder."
Gross-Matos was designated to return on Thursday. He's been sidelined for the last three games after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Falcons in Week 5. The No. 38 overall pick in the 2020 draft has played 78 snaps in four games this year, making a strip-sack against the Cardinals.
The Panthers had one open spot on their 53-man roster after waiving center Sam Tecklenburg earlier this week. As their one corresponding move, they waived defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton.
Carolina also made several practice squad transactions on Saturday.
The club has activated defensive tackle Bruce Hector and wide receiver Marken Michel to the active roster for Sunday's game, representing one of their two standard elevations for the 2020 season. Carolina re-signed Tecklenburg and kicker Taylor Bertolet to the practice squad. As corresponding moves, the Panthers released running back Pete Guerriero and defensive end Greg Roberts from the practice squad.