Panthers' McCaffrey trending toward return Sun.

3:45 PM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey is “trending in the right direction” to return from injured reserve for Sunday’s game at Kansas City, Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Thursday.

“If we played right now, I feel he’d be able to play,” Rhule said.

The team has until 4 p.m. ET on Saturday to activate McCaffrey, who has missed the past six games since suffering a high ankle sprain in a Week 2 loss to Tampa Bay. Rhule wants to make sure there are no setbacks in the next few days before officially committing to a return.

But Rhule likes what he’s seen the past two days out of the league’s highest-paid back at $16 million a year.

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

“Christian looked good today,” Rhule said. “He looked fresh and fast. He recovered well from yesterday.”

McCaffrey returned to practice last week and was given a designation to return, but wasn’t taken off IR with only a couple of practices and a short week to prepare for a Thursday night game against Atlanta.

McCaffrey went

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