Shark Bites

Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (hamstring) was in pads for Wednesday's joint practice with the Titans, according to Max Henson of the team's official website. As far as we know, it's just the rookie's 2nd full practice since camp opened. Samuel has a ton of catching up to do and won't be a fantasy option early this season. We'll see if he emerges as a waiver-wire target at some point.

Panthers WR Devin Funchess is having an "excellent camp," writes the Charlotte Observer's Jordan Rodrigue. WR Curtis Samuel, meanwhile, continues to be sidelined by a hamstring injury. Funchess is locked into a starting spot on the outside opposite Kelvin Benjamin. He's been inefficient through 2 NFL seasons but is a former 2nd-round pick who's still just 23 years old. Funchess is worth a look at his dirt-cheap price tag.

Panthers WR Curtis Samuel is dealing with a hamstring strain, according to Bill Voth of the team's official site. Samuel reportedly felt "tightness" in the hammy on Thursday and has been sent back to Charlotte to be evaluated. There's no timetable for his return to the field. The rookie was already a long shot for reliable fantasy production this season -- and the missed practice time obviously won't help his cause.

Panthers QB Cam Newton threw in Wednesday's training camp session. He threw with teammates earlier this month, but this was his 1st time chucking it around in a formal practice since undergoing shoulder surgery in March. "Another step in the process,'' Newton said. "It's a start. Everything felt good, but we have a long way to go to get where I know we can be." Barring a setback, the shoulder shouldn't be an issue by the time Week 1 rolls around.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera said Tuesday that WR Kelvin Benjamin is "where he needs to be" as far as his weight and conditioning. The Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue reported back in June that Benjamin had worked his way back into shape after showing up to April OTAs overweight. Consider this a non-issue going forward. Benjamin has some new target competition this year in rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, but he's a fine value at his late-6th-round ADP.

Panthers QB Cam Newton will throw to some teammates next week. He missed offseason workouts after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder in March. "The biggest thing is just getting on the same page where everybody is in sync," said RB Christian McCaffrey, who will attend the workouts. "Nobody is worried about Cam. He’s going to be just fine. He’s a helluva player, a helluva athlete. He’ll adjust real quickly." We'll be monitoring Newton when training camp opens, but it's looking more and more like the shoulder will be a non-issue by the time Week 1 rolls around.

Max Henson of the Panthers' official website expects RB Jonathan Stewart to get the "bulk of the carries this season," despite the addition of 1st-round rookie Christian McCaffrey. Media members throw around predictions like this all the time -- and they shouldn't be taken too stringently. We're still betting on McCaffrey out-carrying Stewart this year, but the important takeaway is that the veteran will remain involved. That figures to be especially true near the goal line, where Stewart scored on 9 of 16 carries from inside the opponent's 5-yard line. There's some best-ball appeal here, especially at his recent 12th-round MFL10 ADP. McCaffrey, meanwhile, should settle into the 200-250 touch range. But he's pricey with an ADP at the 3rd/4th-round turn.

Panthers QB Cam Newton said he’s “hands down” the thinnest he’s been at this point in any offseason. "I don't want to lose strength, and it's not me wanting to lose weight to become faster," Newton said via Carolina’s official site. "It's me realizing I'm not that same 21-year-old that came into this league that can eat a bag of gummies and then go out and play four quarters of football.” Now 28, Newton’s looking to rebound from an ugly 2016 that included career lows in completion rate and yards per attempt.

Panthers QB Cam Newton resumed throwing last week for the 1st time since March 30 surgery on his throwing shoulder, according to the team website. Newton said the joint is not yet 100%, citing stiffness. But he also said "there's no doubt" he'll be 100% by training camp. If Newton's fantasy value relied more heavily on his passing, we might be more concerned with this situation. But accuracy has never been a strong point for the star QB. The biggest issue here might be the threat of further hits on the repaired joint. Of course, we've baked the general injury risk of Newton's running into his ranking. We'll see how his summer goes.

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin has worked his way back into shape, according to the Charlotte Observer's Jourdan Rodrigue. Benjamin made headlines back in April when he showed up to OTAs overweight. That should be a non-issue, though, as long as he keeps the pounds off between now and the start of training camp. Benjamin has new target competition this season with the arrivals of rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, but he could still prove to be a value pick at his current WR36 ADP. Benjamin has ranked 15th and 25th, respectively, among WRs in PPR points in his 2 healthy NFL seasons.

Panthers HC Ron Rivera expects QB Cam Newton (shoulder) to throw off to the side during next week's minicamp. He'll be about 11 weeks removed from surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. It doesn't sound like he's a full-go yet, but he might be by the time training camp opens in late July. Newton could use the practice reps with new weapons Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel.

The Panthers plan on using 2nd-round rookie Curtis Samuel primarily as a slot receiver. “That’s why they’re bringing me in there. They feel like I can help the team a lot," Samuel said. "They told me we’re going to do some [RB] too, but they got a great draft pick in Christian McCaffrey, who is a terrific player. I definitely like the way he plays. I’ll be primarily in the slot, but sometimes we’ll both be in the backfield with Cam (Newton). I feel like it’s going to be great.” Samuel racked up 865 receiving yards, 771 rushing yards and 15 total TDs at Ohio State last year. He boasts 4.3 speed and doesn't turn 21 until August. Although he seems a bit redundant to McCaffrey, there's room for both guys to make plays on the ground and in the air. Samuel is worth considering at the end of the 1st round of dynasty rookie drafts and as a late-round flier in redraft leagues.

Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin showed up for voluntary team workouts overweight, according to the Charlotte Observer. "Am I concerned? Yes, because he is heavy. I'm going to admit that right now," HC Ron Rivera added. "But is he working hard? Absolutely. He's been there everyday and done the things we've asked him to do, and it's all strictly on a voluntary basis." There's obviously plenty of time for Benjamin to get in shape well before training camp starts. But the bigger issue here is whether he has the desire to develop and improve. Benjamin has had weight issues since Florida State redshirted him as a freshman because he was out of shape. We'll see where this goes and where his ADP stands as we get into summer. Carolina added some intriguing offensive parts via the draft in RB Christian McCaffrey and WR Curtis Samuel who could siphon looks from the team's #1 WR.

The Panthers selected Ohio State WR Curtis Samuel with the 40th overall pick of the draft. Samuel started his college career at RB, backing up Ezekiel Elliott in 2014. He started the move to WR the following year and broke out this past season. Samuel led the Buckeyes with 74 catches, 865 yards and 7 TDs — and ran for 771 yards and 8 more TDs on 97 carries. He was the only player in the country to post 700+ rushing and receiving yards. Samuel goes just 5’11, 196 pounds but is electric in the open field and clocked a 4.31-second 40 time at the Combine. He now joins Christian McCaffrey in what should be an explosive Panthers offense. Samuel was announced as a WR and figures to spend the vast majority of his time in the slot.

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman threw out a Curtis Martin comparison when discussing 8th overall pick Christian McCaffrey. “The best tackle-box runner I’ve ever seen is Curtis Martin out of Pitt. Christian is right there with him," Gettleman said. "Running in that tackle box takes unique vision and unique quickness, and he’s got it. Curtis Martin had it, and he had a great career – a Hall of Fame career – and this kid’s got those kind of skills.” It's noteworthy that Gettleman praised McCaffrey's inside running ability. We know he's a big threat outside the tackles and in the passing game, but Carolina clearly sees him as a lead ball-carrier. McCaffrey is a good bet to out-touch veteran RB Jonathan Stewart this year.

The Panthers selected Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey with the 8th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. McCaffrey was a do-it-all weapon for the Cardinal, tallying 3,622 yards and 21 TDs on the ground and 955 yards and 8 more scores through the air over the past 2 seasons. His breakout 2015 campaign — as a true sophomore — featured 2,019 rushing yards (2nd most in the country), 45 catches and 645 receiving yards. McCaffrey was the only player in FBS to lead his school in both rushing and receiving. This past year wasn’t quite as productive, but he still totaled 1,913 yards, averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored a career-high 16 TDs. He also contributed in the return game, and his 6,191 all-purpose yards over the last 2 years are the most over any 2-year span in FBS history. McCaffrey is lightning-quick on tape and confirmed that with elite 3-cone and shuttle times at the Combine. And despite going just 5’11 and 202 pounds, he proved capable of handling a big workload at Stanford, averaging 23.6 carries per game and missing just 1 contest over the past 2 seasons. McCaffrey figures to share the rushing load with Jonathan Stewart and dominate passing-down work in the short term. Longer term, he’s a guy who could approach or even top 300 total touches.

Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said QB Cam Newton is “on schedule” to participate in training camp. He played the final 4 games of last season with a partially torn rotator cuff and underwent surgery on his right shoulder on March 30. Per the Panthers, Newton should resume throwing around late June. We’ll track his progress throughout the summer as he tries to rebound from a disappointing 2016.

The Panthers have inked RB Jonathan Stewart to a 1-year extension. He was set to hit free agency next offseason but is now signed in Carolina through the 2018 campaign. Stewart turned 30 a few days ago and averaged just 3.8 yards per carry last year, so this is a curious move. He's the favorite, at least at this point, to serve as Carolina's lead back in 2017. But the Panthers are still a candidate to add a RB early in next month's draft.

Panthers QB Cam Newton will undergo surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder on March 30, the team announced. The injury reportedly occurred in Carolina's Week 14 game against the Chargers. Newton completed just 10 of 27 passes for 160 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in that one. He played in the final 3 games, completing 50.9% of his passes and averaging 245 yards, 1.3 TDs and 1.7 INTs per game. It certainly seems like the injury impacted his play, but it doesn't explain Newton's struggles prior to Week 14. He completed only 54.7% of his passes and averaged 238 yards, 1.3 TDs and .7 INTs in 11 games before the injury. The Panthers hoped rest and rehab would heal Newton's shoulder, but he was still experiencing pain when he resumed throwing earlier this month. So he'll go under the knife. Newton will resume throwing 12 weeks after surgery (late June) and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. We'll track his recovery.

The Panthers reached a deal late Friday with former Vikings WR Charles Johnson. That gives Carolina both of the NFL's players by that name -- the other plays DE -- as well as a speed receiver to fill Ted Ginn's vacated role. Johnson, of course, failed to deliver much fantasy relevance in Minnesota and will slot behind at least Kelvin Benjamin and TE Greg Olsen in Carolina. He'll likely fit behind WR Devin Funchess as well and will need to compete with fellow free-agent addition Russell Shepard -- plus whoever else arrives this offseason. Don't bet on fantasy impact from Johnson with the Panthers

 
 
 

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