The cornerback position is going to be down one of their starters when the Carolina Panthers hold their first practice of training camp tomorrow evening. According to Ron Rivera, cornerback Bene Benwikere will start training camp on the physically unable to perform, or PUP, list.
Benwikere is expected to play a big role in this secondary and replace Josh Norman, who joined the Washington Redskins in the offseason. However, the third-year cornerback is recovering from a broken ankle suffered towards the end of the 2015 season.
"Everybody needs to understand that what he did was very traumatic to that ankle, and it takes a matter of time. Rather than exposing him to the work out there, we’re going to continue to expose him to the rehab program and make sure he’s 100 percent before we throw him out there," head coach Ron Rivera said.
The Panthers are able to move Benwikere off the PUP list at any point during training camp without penalty and it appears the team is just being cautious with him.
Benwikere has bounced between playing outside and nickelback in his first two years with the Panthers but the coaching staff has made it clear this offseason that he will be primarily playing outside.
In other injury news, Rivera said that recently signed cornerback Leonard Johnson will start the year on the NFI (non-football injury) list. The former New England Patriot was signed earlier this month and missed all offseason workouts with the team.
Two players who were cleared to return were middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin but the coaching staff is going to be just as cautious with two key players for this football team. Kuechly is coming off offseason shoulder surgery to address an injury that he suffered in the final regular season game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Meanwhile, Benjamin has been working back from an ACL injury that he suffered in training camp last year. He did participate a bit in individual drills during OTAs and this will most likely be the case in the early parts of training camp as they try to work him back.