Alas, injures can ruin even the best-laid plans. With Kelvin Benjamin tearing his ACL, the expectations for Funchess will increase.
While the rookie sat out practice Thursday nursing a hamstring injury, the Panthers talked up the high IQ of their second-round pick, who has learned the Z receiver spot, the slot and will now move to the X role (where Benjamin was anchored).
"Absolutely, that should help a lot. He is really a solid young man," coach Ron Rivera said of the receiver's IQ, via the Charlotte Observer. "He knows two positions, and obviously he'll concentrate on Kelvin's and work to handle that spot for us."
"It was always my expectation for it to be a big year. It just so happened that occurred yesterday," Funchess said Thursday. "So I guess everybody will expect more on my plate."
Funchess isn't the talent Benjamin is. While Funchess has the ability to high point the ball, he suffered too many lapses in concentration during his time in college and didn't prove to be the same type of red-zone target.
We don't expect the rookie to replicate Benjamin's numbers from last season, but that likely won't stop him from rising up fantasy football draft boards.