The 2015 season for the Carolina Panthers ended in disappointment because of a loss in the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos, but at least their 2016 campaign looks like it could get off to a good start.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin should be ready to go for training camp this year, but will participate on a limited basis during the OTAs and minicamp.
Benjamin missed the entirety of the 2015 season due to tearing his left ACL in August against the Miami Dolphins in a training camp practice. His presence was missed as the Panthers were unable to replace him with a standout receiver on the outside.
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Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has been pleased with the way the 25-year-old has handled himself during the rehab process, rather than feeling sorry for himself after his season-ending injury, and for staying at a consistent 238 pounds despite previous weight problems.
He said: “Kelvin has worked his fanny off. He really has taken the bull by the horns. Like any other young kid it took him a couple weeks to get over the woe-is-me stuff and understand it’s time to go. He’ll be doing some things this spring and he’ll be ready to go for training camp.”
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The general manager also said he is excited to see Benjamin and last year's second-round pick Devin Funchess playing on the same field at the same time for the first time in 2016.
He said: “I had that conversation with (offensive coordinator) Mike Shula two days ago. It’s certainly fun to think about. But we’ll see."
The return of Benjamin will surely bring delight to many Panthers fans as they hope their side can repeat the success during the regular season from last year, and go one better in the postseason and win the Super Bowl.
Due to missing last year, the wide receiver only has his impressive rookie season under his belt for the NFC champions, where he culminated 1,008 receiving yards and nine touchdowns from 73 receptions, averaging 13.8 yards per catch and 63 yards per game. He was arguably the best receiver on the team in 2014, ahead of tight end Greg Olsen.
Benjamin will be looking to build on what he has done previously when the 2016 season comes around, in order to stake his case for a new deal, as his rookie contract expires at the end of the 2017 season.
His inclusion back into the starting lineup should provide the Panthers with the boost they need in the passing game in order to once again challenge and try and claim their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.