Funchess led the Panthers with 86 receiving yards in Sunday's 20-17 victory at Bank of America Stadium.
Quarterback Cam Newton, although clearly disturbed by Benjamin's departure, has expressed confidence in Funchess.
"Very savvy," Newton said. "He's growing into the role."
Funchess made five catches. He accounted for well more than half of the team's 137 receiving yards.
"The funny thing about it is, he had some quiet yards," Newton said. "That's what he can do. He can give you yards after catch."
Newton threw seven of his 24 passes in Funchess' direction and is endorsing the new role for Funchess.
"We're only going to get better," Newton said. "He has taken that leadership role and grabbed it by the horn."
Like Benjamin, Funchess is a big target with a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame.
"We just grinded the whole week," Funchess said. "We paid attention to detail. It all started with Wednesday's practice (the day after the trade) and we went out there and performed."
Benjamin led the team with 475 receiving yards on 32 catches through eight games. Now, Funchess has a team-leading 443 receiving yards on 38 receptions (second in that category behind running back Christian McCaffrey's 54).
Funchess leads Carolina with three touchdown catches this season.
The 14 points scored in the final two minutes of the first half weren't just a big burst to give the Panthers a lead against Atlanta. They never relinquished that lead, either.
It marked the first time in franchise history that Carolina scored two offensive touchdowns in the last two minutes of a half.
Quarterback Cam Newton said it might have been the biggest part of the game.
"We score right before the half, we get 14 without their offense putting up any," he said.
Running back Jonathan Stewart is the leading rusher in franchise history, but Carolina fans weren't too pleased with him after two first-quarter fumbles in Atlanta territory.
"It's tough because you know he was running hard," head coach Ron Rivera said. "We will go right back and hand it to Jonathan."
Stewart was limited to 11 carries, accounting for only 21 rushing yards in the game. On the game's last possession with the Panthers protecting a three-point lead, the three running plays went to rookie RB Christian McCaffrey.
The Panthers have lost five fumbles this season, three by Stewart.
NOTES: S Mike Adams suffered what head coach Ron Rivera referred to Monday as a shoulder stinger and early indications are that it's not a serious ailment. Adams said after the game he will receive some treatment, but he was in no hurry for that, preferring to discuss his big second-quarter interception with reporters. ... RB Christian McCaffrey had several notables against Atlanta, including his first rushing touchdown. The rookie also picked up a career-high 66 rushing yards, including a career-long carry of 17 yards. ... TE Chris Manhertz left the game against the Atlanta Falcons in the first half and was placed in the concussion protocol. He has been the backup tight end. ... DE Mario Addison added a sack against Atlanta, giving him 14.5 sacks in his last 16 games. ... WR Brenton Bersin, who rejoined the team during the past week, was activated for the game. He played mostly on special teams.
MOST VALUABLE ROOKIE: RB Christian McCaffrey. He has made an immediate impact on the passing attack as he has become a dependable outlet for QB Cam Newton. He has at least five receptions in all except two of the first nine games. Newton certainly seems comfortable with him and that's important. He hasn't broken loose much in terms of a rushing threat, but that could come. He does serve as a nice change of pace compared to veteran RB Jonathan Stewart.
VETERAN SURPRISE: S Mike Adams. He has fit in well and gives the team a veteran presence as a 14th-year player in the league. He's tied for fifth on the team in tackles and he shares the team lead with two interceptions. He plays a lot of snaps, with his role heightened when S Kurt Coleman missed time with an injury.
MIDSEASON REPORT CARD
--PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus - The Panthers have failed to reach the 200-yard passing mark in four of their games, though they won in three of those. QB Cam Newton has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. WR Devin Funchess has shown promise with a few promising stretches and RB Christian McCaffrey leads the team with 54 receptions. The trade of WR Kelvin Benjamin after eight games leaves lots of questions for the passing attack, which should have TE Greg Olsen back from injury by late November. TE Ed Dickson had a good impact initially after Olsen's injury, but he has since faded with a total of 78 receiving yards over the last four games.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: C - This has been largely miserable, though QB Cam Newton has saved the Panthers in this category. Newton has led the team in rushing the past four games. Despite the woes in this area, the Nov. 5 game against Atlanta came with 201 rushing yards, marking the most in more than two years. Of course, 86 of those yards were by Newton and another 25 came from WRs Curtis Samuel and Russell Shepard. The running backs rarely get untracked, and that largely could be because of failed blocking schemes. RB Christian McCaffrey has eclipsed 20 rushing yards in only two of the first nine games. Jonathan Stewart, the franchise's all-time leading rusher, has 350 rushing yards with a top game of 68. Stewart also has lost three fumbles on carries.
--PASS DEFENSE: B-plus - The pass rush gives the Panthers an edge in many situations and that has caused some opponents to be erratic. DE Julius Peppers is a weapon when it comes to pressuring quarterbacks. The coverage has wavered throughout the season as CB James Bradberry still tends to get picked on. The Panthers have four interceptions in the first nine games, with S Mike Adams and LB Luke Kuechly with two each.
--RUSH DEFENSE: A - The Panthers often receive strong grades in this category, as they have been strong across the front. They haven't allowed an opposing player to gain more than 71 yards on the ground in any game. This is an area the Panthers can count on and it has indirectly aided the pass defense at times by putting opponents in predictable situations.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: A-minus - The Panthers have come through strong in this category. K Graham Gano has made the coaching staff look good by winning the kicking job again and then making 19 of his 20 field-goal attempts so far. P Michael Palardy has been between good and outstanding in most every situation. The Panthers haven't prospered much in kickoff and punt returns, but they haven't given up much in return coverage situations either.
--COACHING: B-plus - The team has a 6-3 record so that should count for something. The Panthers withstood the first month of the season when QB Cam Newton was limited in practices after offseason shoulder surgery. They still haven't gotten the offense clicking at a high rate, but they've usually found a way to generate enough. A few veterans have worked in well on the defensive side. There haven't been blatant coaching blunders and the staff has found ways to make the parts fit. There have been injuries along the offensive line, but so far Carolina has overcome those.