Carolina is hoping and expecting that third’s time a charm for Curtis Samuel.
The third-year receiver didn’t contribute much in his first two campaigns, compiling 66 touches for 757 yards and seven scores in 22 games. Samuel, 22, was expected to be a game-breaking talent out of college, but he has since been overshadowed by draftmate Christian McCaffrey and last year’s first-round pick D.J. Moore.
But no more, says, well, everyone at Panthers camp.
McCaffrey, RB: “He’s got foot speed that’s rare. Not just in the league. I’d say in the world. Being able to watch him really use his skills well and learn and develop has been a lot of fun.”
Torrey Smith, WR: “He’s had the most growth out of any player I’ve ever seen in terms of as a player, confidence … everything. I’m expecting him to have a huge year. He’s worked his way to be in that position.”
Chris Hogan, WR: “He’s special, man. He’s explosive. He’s quick off the line, has really good hands, runs really good routes. … He really has primed himself to have a good season.”
Norv Turner, offensive coordinator: “He’s becoming an outstanding route runner.”
Ron Rivera, head ball coach said Samuel is “light years” ahead of his rookie self: “And now he has taken an even bigger leap. It’s exciting to watch.”
In sum, that’s high praise.
If Samuel can be the go-to breakout receiver that Carolina was hoping he could be when it picked him in the second round of the 2018 draft, then the Panthers‘ offensive outlook should look a whole lot brighter.
Cam Newton, armed with a perhaps revamped throwing motion, will have Samuel, McCaffrey, Moore, Hogan, Smith and Greg Olsen in tow as potential pass-catchers. That’s a far more dynamic selection than the Devin Funchess-Kelvin Benjamin pairing from years past.