Carolina Panthers rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is going to be the key to the team’s passing attack this season, and his ability to shed the “raw” label and make an immediate impact could actually make the Panthers wide receivers corps better than it was last year. Steve Smith was used as a decoy more often than not last season, whereas Benjamin’s size, youth, athleticism, and long speed could make him an upgrade as a true “X” receiver. Smith will have better days with the Baltimore Ravens, and the future looks up for Benjamin in Carolina, provided he can improve his route-running and cut down on the drops enough before his first season.
Yesterday, Benjamin hit is left knee against a teammate’s knee and complained of soreness, so the Panthers have sent him in for a precautionary MRI today. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera stressed today that the MRI is a simple precaution, and I’m sure it pays to be cautious with a rookie wideout as important as KB is to the team.
According to the Charlotte Observer’s Joe Person, the MRI results on Benjamin’s left knee are not in yet, but Rivera is “optimistic” that they will turn up negative. Jerricho Cotchery, Tiquan Underwood, Jason Avant, and perhaps Tavarres King or Marvin McNutt are decent pieces, but they need a true “X” receiver with Benjamin’s tools to truly work at their best. I highly doubt Benjamin suffered a knee injury of any significant, but, as the Panthers are wisely showing us, it pays to be cautious. But for all the talk about Benjamin’s schematic importance, the most productive pass-catcher on the Panthers should still clearly be Greg Olsen.