The player who has seen their stock rise the most during the Carolina Panthers training camp has to be wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The former first round pick is coming back from an ACL injury suffered during training camp last year and while all reports were positive before training camp, there was going to still be some uncertainty until he actually went through practice.
Well, he has done that and doesn't look to have missed a beat.
The addition of Benjamin to the Panthers' offense is only going to make the highest-scoring team from 2015 better. He has been seen making acrobatic catches in practice and with his size, creates mismatches for opposing defenses.
The other positive for this offense is that with defenses needing to focus on Benjamin, it should create more winnable match-ups for players like Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr.. As long he doesn't suffer any setbacks, Benjamin should pick up right where he left off from his rookie season.
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Shaq Thompson, another former first round pick, is having a great start to training camp. The outside linebacker's playing time as a rookie was limited, primarily due to the fact that the defense spends a majority of time in their nickel defense. This means that they will only have two linebackers on the field, along with five defensive backs, and those spots go to Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
However, if Thompson continues to play the way he has the coaching staff may have no choice but to play in their base 4-3 defense more in 2016. Thompson has done an excellent job, especially dropping back into coverage. The past two days he has made impressive one-handed interceptions off quarterback Cam Newton.
Last season, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis had four interceptions each, which was tied for the league led among linebackers. If Thompson continues to make plays like he has in practice, the Panthers could have three linebackers at the top of the league in this category.
The biggest concern entering the season had to be the secondary, with the loss of Josh Norman and the team turning to three rookies. One of those rookies though is off to a fast start and that is third round pick, Daryl Worley.
The Panthers are still without Bene Benwikere, who is recovering for a fractured ankle, which gave Worley the opportunity to start training camp running with the first defense. He didn't waste any time making plays from interceptions to plays like this from Sunday, when he broke up a pass from Newton intended for Funchess.
The assumption is that as long as Benwikere is healthy, these rookies will be competing for one starting cornerback spot. The past few practices has put Worley squarely in contention for that job.
One player who is not off to a fast start is the most recent first round pick, Vernon Butler. The big defensive tackle has not made a huge impact and on Sunday Ron Rivera said that "he will most certainly be a work in progress."
The learning curve is something that could be steeper for Butler versus some other players due to the fact that he wasn't facing top competition at Louisiana Tech. Rivera said during that press conference that Butler isn't finishing plays even though he may be in good position.
The best news for the Panthers though may be that they don't need to put him out there the first week because of the talent they have at defensive tackle. There is still plenty of time between now and the start of the regular season so this shouldn't be a major concern but it is worth watching through the remainder of the preseason.