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Funchess (hamstring) participates in Panthers practice

Devin Funchess has returned to the Carolina Panthers' practice field, and the news could not have come sooner.

Funchess participated fully in Panthers practice on Sunday, according to the Charlotte Observer. The rookie wideout reportedly dropped a few passes, but otherwise looked as if his strained hamstring wasn't bothering him.

The Panthers played without Funchess against the Patriots on Friday, using a "committee" approach at wide receiver, and the results were not pretty. Jerricho Cotchery left early with a groin injury; potential starter Corey Brown dropped a number of passes, including a sure-fire touchdown on which he beat Patriots hero Malcolm Butler on a stop-and-go; and Cam Newton's lone touchdown pass went to a running back.

Since Kelvin Benjamin went down with a season-ending ACL injury earlier this month, Newton and the Panthers have been searching for a way to compensate for the second-year stud's production. Without Benjamin, Funchess is going to be tasked with being the physical presence on the flanks of the Panthers' attack, drawing coverage away from other less-talented wideouts and making big Benjamin-ian plays.

Thankfully for the Panthers, it looks like Funchess has shaken off his nagging hamstring injury for now. However, if they want him to match Benjamin's production in the regular season, he'll have to be in pristine shape come Week 1.

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