Panthers: Wide receiver Curtis Samuel faces uphill battle in 2018

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Curtis Samuel
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Curtis Samuel /

Curtis Samuel will have to find a way to get on the field in 2018.

It was not the way wide receiver Curtis Samuel had planned things. After all, who wants to suffer an injury? Unfortunately for the second-year wideout, his season ended rather abruptly.

Suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter of the Panthers’ 45-21 win over the Dolphins on Monday Night Football in Week 10, he would go on to miss the rest of the 2017 season because of it.

Now, Samuel is beginning to work his way back. A piece written by Max Henson of exemplifies this. Working harder than ever to return to the field, this is exactly the type of work ethic he needs in order to separate himself from the rest of the Panther receivers.

The former Buckeye did not exactly put up eye-popping numbers in 2017, catching 15 passes for 115 yards. It is fair to say he had competition at the position. Devin Funchess was the team’s leading reliever, and Russell Shepard emerged on the scene (particularly late in the season) as a dependable target. In addition, the tight ends continued to snag many of Cam Newton’s passes as the combination of Greg Olsen and Ed Dickson proved to be a reliable double-threat in the passing game.

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Where does Samuel fit in all of this? Although giving a definitive answer would be difficult at this stage in the offseason, it is safe to say that for the moment, he has stiff competition ahead of him.

It is not that Samuel does not have the type of skills necessary to be successful. His final season at Ohio State was proof of that. He caught 74 passes for 865 yards and two touchdowns, proving that he had playmaking capabilities. In the Miami game, he showed glimpses of that playmaking talent, catching five passes for 45 yards.

It is fair to wonder if his injury affects his role in the Panthers’ plans for the 2018 season. He may get lost in the shuffle. Then again, he may be able to see the field and contribute. There is no definitive answer at this time. What is clearer is that between getting back to full health from the ankle injury and a crowded receiving group, he may have an uphill battle ahead of him.

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