After missing the past two games with a shoulder injury, wide receiver Philly Brown practiced in full on Wednesday and should be returning to the field for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Brown was the starting wide receiver for the Panthers over the first eight games of the season but that may not be the case when he returns due to the emergence of rookie Devin Funchess.
On Wednesday, head coach Ron Rivera was asked who the starting wide receiver would be when Brown returns. His response was simply: "It's a secret."
This certainly could be just a level of gamemanship from Rivera as a way to keep the Saints off balance as Brown and Funchess bring two distinctly different skill sets to this offense. Brown is a much smaller, quicker wide receiver compared to Funchess who presents a match-up nightmare with his size on the outside.
Rivera did say that this is something that could change and it could just be a matter of whatever formation offensive coordinator Mike Shula calls at the start of the game.
However, in terms of production this should be an easy decision with all signs pointing to Funchess being the starter for the Panthers. Over the first eight games, Brown had 17 reception, 233 receiving yards and three touchdowns meanwhile Funchess has 11 receptions, 195 receiving yards and two touchdowns in only the past four games.
One of the reasons Funchess, has been successful the past four games is that he has avoided dropped passes. In the first seven games of the season, Funchess had six drops but has not had a drop over the past four games.
While it is never fair to see a player lose his starting role due to injury, the Panthers should continue with the hot hand and right now that is Devin Funchess.