The second-year wide receiver continues to shine this preseason as Devin Funchess led the Carolina Panthers in receiving against the New England Patriots. He had five receptions for 49 yards and for the preseason has eight receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown reception.
Cam Newton has to be excited about all the weapons he has at his disposal entering the upcoming season but the development of Funchess may be the most important piece. The return of Kelvin Benjamin is certainly going to be a great boost for this offense but it remains to be seen exactly how much he will play in the early parts of the season. This is where Funchess could be the most valuable and the first few weeks of the season could be the primary target for the Panthers' offense.
Another second-year player who is having a strong preseason is David Mayo, who is the leading tackler for the Panthers this preseason with 16 total. The former fifth-round pick primarily played special teams last year and finished with nine total tackles.
Entering this season, Mayo most likely won't see extended playing time on defense barring any kind of injury. However, the development he has shown to this point should give the coaching staff confidence that he can step in if the need arises.
Almost immediately after signing a contract with the Panthers, it was assumed that Mike Scifres would be the starting punter for this team in 2016. However, the veteran punter has dealt with a number of injuries, most recently a knee injury that forced him out of the preseason game against the Patriots.
The question of who will be the starting punter for the upcoming season has to be the biggest concern for this coaching staff at this point of the preseason. In addition to Scifres they have Kasey Redfern but he has yet to play a regular season game in his career. It would not be a surprise that the starting punter for the Panthers opening night against the Broncos isn't currently on the roster.
Depth at Safety Position
The Panthers have been injury riddled at the safety position this preseason. Dean Marlowe has been dealing with a hamstring injury and Trenton Robinson has recently undergone pectoral surgery in addition to Marcus Ball and Travell Dixon who missed the game against the Patriots. The injuries have been tough and the Panthers even had to use linebacker Brian Blechen at the position in their third preseason game.
This is going to be worth watching over the next two weeks or so to see if the team does decide to add a player or two to provide insurance if the need arises.