Saturday, May 17, 2014
Kelvin Benjamin leaves Panthers wowed
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One of the last plays of the Carolina Panthers' two-day rookie camp left the most lasting impression.
First-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin went high into the air on Saturday to make a one-handed snag with two defenders draped all over him. The play by the Florida State wide receiver was so impressive that general manager Dave Gettleman bent over and grabbed his knees.
Then he stood and grabbed his heart.
Then he smiled.
"I'm not sure why everybody got so excited,'' head coach Ron Rivera said afterwards with a touch of sarcasm.
After a pause for reaction, Rivera added, "That was pretty impressive. He's got the kind of ability you're looking for.''
Benjamin was impressive. It's easy to see why the Panthers didn't hesitate to use the No. 28 pick to get him.
Here are a few other impressions from the past two days:
Oh, Canada: David Foucault, a 6-foot-8, 320-pound tackle from Montreal, has a realistic chance of making it to training camp. He meets the eye test in that he's long, athletic and moves his feet well. He doesn't have a lot of experience, but as Gettleman said, "He's interesting.''
English isn't Focault's best language, but he knows enough that when the coaches push him he responds. And he drives a Nissan Versa. If a man his size can get in and out of that, he must be pretty nimble.
Back to school: Sixth-round draft pick Tyler Gaffney, a running back from Stanford, was picked because he can block and he's a straight-ahead runner with power. The downside is Stanford is on a quarter system, so he must return to school and won't be back until around June 9. That means he'll miss more than two weeks of offseason workouts on the field and in the classroom.
Tough calls to make: The quality of players the Panthers brought in for tryouts was better than the past two years. From the quarterbacks who were effective passers to players such as tight end LaDon Hudson (6-3, 214), who moves more like a wide receiver.
Rivera said the talent was so much better that a few may replace players already on the roster.
Not there yet: As impressive as Benjamin was, wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl isn't ready to proclaim this year's receiving corps is as good or better than last year's, the top four all playing for other teams now.
Chamber of commerce weather: Hope those that participated in this camp enjoyed the unseasonably cool temperatures (low 70s) with no humidity. The temperature and humidity is sure to kick it up a few notches when OTAs kick into full gear in June and when training camp begins on August 24.