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Funchess accelerates NFL education
Panthers rookie WR taking first-team snaps
Published Friday, June 5, 2015 8:46 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Nothing teaches like experience.

Carolina Panthers receiver Devin Funchess continues to see extra reps as Kelvin Benjamin recovers from a pulled hamstring.

“It’s putting the pressure on me to learn it,” said Funchess. “It’s speeding up the learning process for me. Everybody ramped it up. I just had to ramp my game up too.”

A second-round pick in April’s NFL draft, the 6-5 rookie from Michigan has built on his football IQ. Carolina’s coaching staff expects him to continue to improve and grow.

“Devin’s done a nice job. In fact, on of the things that Devin has done, is he’s learned all three of our wide receiver positions, so he’s right on par,” said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. “I think he’s shown his versatility playing all the different positions.

“He’s a good route runner. He really is, and he’s shown the ability to go up and get the ball,” said Rivera. “His catch radius is really good. With Cam (Newton, the Panthers quarterback), it helps. There has been no issue with Devin."

Funchess is acclimating himself to Newton’s arm strength and command of the offense in every practice session.

“You’ve got to get used to it,” Funchess said. “He just treats me like a little brother. He just makes sure that I know everything. If I get better than I can help him and then vice versa. We’re going to be a tandem out there going against defense.”

With the additional reps, Funchess has the opportunity to gain valuable experience before heading into training camp.

“The guys had a lot of energy,” said Rivera. “Especially for an OTA practice, I was excited about their effort. The guys were really having a good time, competing against each other, challenging each other. You’re starting to see more and more, because we’re at the point now where our instillations go very quickly. We put a lot of volume in them. We’re not going slow. We’re just doing the things we need to do and get those things done.”

In 37 games at Michigan, Funchess had 126 receptions for 1,715 yards and 15 touchdowns. He left school tied for 12th in career 100-yard receiving games (five) and averaged 13.6 yards per catch, with a career long of 59 yards. He’s looking to surpass those numbers as a professional.

“We’ve all got go-getters in the wideout room,” said Funchess. “It’s going to be fun at camp going deep and just getting that real feel for it."


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