SPARTANBURG, S.C., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- It wasn't long ago that Kelvin Benjamin was the darling of the Carolina Panthers receiving group.
After winning a national championship alongside Jameis Winston at Florida State, Benjamin exploded onto the NFL scene in 2014. That season, he hauled in 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.
Then came the injury, derailing his sophomore campaign. But the season wasn't derailed for the Panthers, who overcame Benjamin's training camp ACL injury en route to a 15-1 season. After falling to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, competition is encouraged for the Panthers. Competition was waiting for Benjamin this preseason in the form of Devin Funchess.
Benjamin showed up to camp a little heavier than his normal playing weight and is still shaking off rust.
"To be honest with you, where Devin is right now and where Kelvin needs to get to, I think Devin is pushing Kelvin," wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl told Panthers.com. "He's realizing, 'I've got to get back, I've got to push, because this guy [Funchess] is pretty dang good."
"That's the beauty of it."
Panthers coach Ron Rivera told NFL.com that Benjamin will play without a brace on his knee this season.
"If you put something on him and it prohibits him from being who he is, you don't gain anything," Rivera told Jeffri Chadiha. "I would like to see him wear it, but he says he feels good and the doctors say he's doing well. So we'll just keep our fingers crossed."
With NFL MVP Cam Newton throwing them passes, any Carolina receiving option is worth monitoring heading into your fantasy draft. Benjamin and Funchess head the Panthers depth chart. Despite a myriad of drops last season, Ted Ginn, Jr. provided production for the Panthers.
Benjamin, 25, should be looked at as a borderline No. 2 wide receiver in fantasy football circles. His 6 foot, 5 inch frame will continue to provide a consistent red zone option for Newton all season.