CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two key pieces of the Carolina Panthers offense will be missing today when Phase 3 of organized team activities is opened to the media.
No. 1 wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is rehabbing a hamstring injury suffered a few weeks ago. Second-round draft pick Devin Funchess, expected to compete for the No. 2 receiver spot, is flying to Los Angeles to learn the business side of football at the annual NFLPA Rookie Premiere.
Funchess isn't the only NFL rookie that will miss the Thursday session. Some, like Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, will participate in practice and then catch a flight without stopping to talk to reporters.
But with Funchess and Benjamin both out, what will Carolina's receiving corps look like? Perhaps this is a chance for Stephen Hill to make an impression.
Hill spent last season on Carolina's practice squad after being released by the New York Jets at the end of training camp. Coach Ron Rivera said earlier this year the former second-round pick out of Georgia Tech is ready to compete for a roster spot.
At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, Hill has a similar body type as Funchess (6-4, 232).
In April, Carolina wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl told a Charlotte radio station, "I can't say enough about this kid."
"I can't wait to get my hands on him this spring and in the offseason so as to showcase what he can do," Proehl told WFNZ. "This will be a big spring for him."
Hill's speed sets him apart from Benjamin and even Funchess. Hill was clocked at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2012 combine. Funchess posted a 4.47 during his Pro Day at Michigan after posing a disappointing 4.70 at the combine.
Having the opportunity to showcase his talents without Funchess and Benjamin on the field could give Hill an opportunity to stand out. But he ultimately will need to stand out with them competing in order to be a factor in 2015.