Kelvin Benjamin carted off with sprained left knee

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Kelvin Benjamin suffered a left knee sprain during Wednesday's joint practice with the Miami Dolphinsand will undergo an MRI, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

The Panthers receiver went down when he tried to make a cut against Miami defensive back Don Jones on a play in which there was no contact. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before being carted off.

"He just went to plant and make a swim move, and without any contact just went down," Rivera said. "It's unfortunate. It's one of those things that could have happened in any drill."

Last season, Benjamin led Carolina receivers in receptions with 73 for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in the regular season. He was the team's first-round draft pick in 2014.

Rivera said the injury doesn't change the complexion of the offense.

"It's not going to change the complexion of what we want to do or how we're going to do it," Rivera said. "It's just going to change who's going to do it.

"It means that young men likeDevin Funchessare going to have to step up until Kelvin is back."

Benjamin reported to training camp in what Rivera said was "tremendous shape" and was performing well at camp.

Carolina has already lost one wide receiver this preseason when Stephen Hill suffered a torn ACL in the first week of training camp.

Funchess, selected in the second round of the May draft out of Michigan, tweaked his hamstring late in practice and likely will miss Thursday's session with the Dolphins.

Another candidate to replace Benjamin is Jarrett Boykin, acquired during the offseason as a free agent from Green Bay.

"Some guys have just got to step up and take advantage of the opportunity, and hopefully we'll get some positive news later today," Rivera said.

Quarterback Cam Newton helped Benjamin onto the cart before resuming practice.

"Cam was right there with his teammate," Rivera said. "He said, 'Hey, you're going to be OK. We'll hold the fort down until you're ready to get back up.' It was positive."

Panthers receiver Ted Ginn Jr. also talked to Benjamin and told him to "keep his head up.''

"You've got to realize he's our No. 1 guy,'' Ginn said. "Not having your No. 1 guy on the practice field, it hurts you a little bit. I believe we have the guys behind him to step up and do whatever we need to do to fill the void right now.''

Dolphins starting safetyLouis Delmasalso was carted off during Wednesday's joint practice, and a source later told's James Walker that he suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.

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