Big-time Carolina Panthers first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin was sent in Monday morning for what the team called a “precautionary MRI.”
This comes after a random accident in minicamp in which Benjamin “banged knees” with another player. There are, of course, no reports of actual injury yet, but a knee injury to a wide receiver could be catastrophic, especially for the Panthers who are trying to replace Steve Smith.
Currently, Benjamin sits behind Jerricho Cotchery on the depth chart. Both are strong players new to the team and, should one fall to injury, it’s likely that the other could fill in the hole until the other is well or a solution can be found. For now, it doesn’t seem like this news will be a blow to the Panthers at all — depending on what the MRI says.
In the unlikely event there is an actual injury and Benjamin is to be out for any extended period of time, this will be more than a bump in his road. With Cotchery already an NFL veteran, and Benjamin fresh out of Florida State, the repercussions for Benjamin’s season are obvious. He needs this time in training camp and should it extend into the preseason (as knee injuries can), any time spent not training against actual pro players will hurt his chances of flourishing as a rookie.
For now, it is wise for the Panthers to take a wait-and-see position with their young prodigy. That being said, it would behoove the team to start preparing contingency plans to ensure the receiving corps can compete in what will already be a challenging season. They can ill afford to be caught with an under-trained rookie wide receiver.