Carolina Panthers wideout Devin Funchess was strolling his canine Chopper throughout the group’s off day Tuesday when his mobile phone began blowing up.
“I didn’t answer the phone because the right people wasn’t calling me,” Funchess stated. “I knew nobody died up in Michigan.”
No, it was nothing that grave. But when he lastly took a name from his godfather he realized what all of the commotion about: The Panthers had traded No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo, leaving Funchess as the highest canine within the group’s receiving corps.
The laid-back Funchess took the information nonchalantly, a lot as he does every thing else life throws at him. The former second-round choose from Michigan can be elevated to the highest receiving spot for the primary time in his three-year profession, however he’s not altering his strategy.
“It’s cool. I don’t get too high or low, though. You can ask anybody in the building,” Funchess stated Thursday. “I’m rolling with the punches. I’m just going to keep trying to make plays for the team.”
The 6-foot-Four, 225-pounder now might be ready to be make extra of them.
Funchess will transfer Z receiver, or flanker, to Benjamin’s previous spot on the X, or break up finish. Though Funchess’ routes will principally keep the identical, he’ll be considered extra because the go-to receiver.
“But I don’t look at it that way. I don’t say, ‘I have to step up to the plate because he’s gone.’ I’m still going to play my game,” he stated. “I’m not going to do anything different. I’m just going to play ball.”
Funchess was taking part in a number of the greatest ball of his profession a couple of weeks in the past when he caught seven pbades, together with three for touchdowns, in back-to-back wins at New England and Detroit.
But Funchess’ numbers have dipped the previous three video games as he has struggled at occasions to separate from protection.
The Panthers’ rationale for dealing Benjamin for 2 draft picks is that Benjamin and Funchess have been too related by way of measurement and talent set. General supervisor Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera stated they wished to inject extra pace at receiver within the individuals of Curtis Samuel and Kaelin Clay.
Carolina Panthers huge receiver Devin Funchess stated he received’t get too enthusiastic about being the group’s No. 1 receiver, however relatively keep his regular, calm demeanor.
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“I mean, I’m kind of fast, too,” Funchess stated. “It’s going to be fun.”
Speed is form of a sensitive topic with Funchess, who ran a sluggish (Four.70 seconds) 40 time on the mix earlier than clocking a Four.48 at Michigan’s professional day.
“He’s sneaky fast,” Rivera stated. “He’s a build-up guy, with those long legs. Once he gets them turning over, he can go pretty good.”
Quarterback Cam Newton threw three deep balls to Funchess final week in a win at Tampa Bay, all of which fell incomplete.
Rivera stated he thinks Funchess’ greatest routes are 12- to 15-yard digs, as soon as generally known as square-ins.
“He hits that and he’s makes a pretty good cut,” Rivera stated. “He sinks his hips nicely when he makes a lot of his cuts and gets in and out pretty quickly.”
Panthers tight finish Greg Olsen, who’s on injured reserve for at the very least three extra weeks, says Funchess alone just isn’t going to exchange Benjamin.
“I don’t think it’s going to fall on any one guy. I don’t think one guy is going to come in and just say, ‘OK, you run the routes that Kelvin runs,’” he stated. “I think it’s going to be a wide receiver collective (effort).”
That was the case in 2015 when Benjamin went down with a season-ending knee harm in coaching camp. The Panthers had 4 huge receivers that season end with at the very least 31 catches, however nobody had greater than Ted Ginn’s 44.
Funchess stated studying concerning the Benjamin commerce was so much like watching him get damage in Spartanburg two years in the past.
“It shocked us. Just like in ’15 it shocked us. He was our guy,” Funchess stated. “But we’re still going to go out there and play. You can’t cry over spilled milk. … We can’t be, ‘Aw man, we can’t do nothing because he’s gone.’ We’ve got to step up to the plate and go out there and make plays.”
Funchess, who grew up in Detroit, talked to Benjamin this week about his new group – and getting ready for lake-effect snow.
Funchess stated he informed the Florida-born Benjamin he was going “to a place where you might not can’t open the door” due to the snow drifts. “So I don’t know what to do with that,” Funchess added.
Rivera says he’s witnessed a extra mature Funchess this season. He’s ran into him a pair occasions on the stadium at 6 a.m., and seen him get on the observe subject early to catch additional pbades and stretch.
Funchess’ dedication is likely to be a part of the rationale he’s nonetheless there. After all, in the event that they thought that they had two receivers who have been an excessive amount of alike, the Panthers may have tried to commerce Funchess as an alternative.
“It showed that they like me a little bit,” Funchess stated. “Go out there and (prove), I was the right guy when they picked me, I guess.”