Carolina Panthers: Curtis Samuel poised for breakout season
Carolina Panthers Curtis Samuel hoping to make a name for himself in 2019.
Curtis Samuel has been a part of the Carolina Panthers since being selected No. 40 (second-round) overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. A hybrid offensive weapon able to contribute both on the ground and through the passing game, Samuel seemed to fit an offense shifting from big bodied receivers to those with more play making abilities.
That narrative continued as general manager Marty Hurney took the reigns as interim prior to the 2017 season but Samuel never quite developed into the dynamic receiver many believed possible. Set back because of injuries with ankle and back issues during his first two seasons, Samuel has only appeared in 22 games.
Those numbers increased down the stretch last year as Samuel started the final six games for Carolina garnering 22 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to adding 41 yards on the ground with just four carries.
After a healthy offseason, Samuel is ready to make a more significant impact on the Panthers offense during the 2019 season. Wide receiver Devin Funchess was allowed to walk during free agency, indicating the team’s belief in Samuel and second-year receiver D.J. Moore. A few veterans sprinkled into the mix combine for a very competitive position but one in which Samuel is already making a splash.
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Speaking with reporters after practice this week, Samuel offered the following comments to The Charlotte Observer.
"“(I want to) be a little bit better than I was last year. The better I get, the better we become as a team. Playing a bigger role, my impact is a must.”"
Able to use his speed and route running abilities to take advantage of opposing defenses, Samuel is only going to benefit from a healthy Cam Newton. Hampered during the second half of last year and eventually shut down completely for the final two games of 2018, his ability to throw the football down the field plays to Samuel’s strengths.
If the two can remain healthy throughout 2019, then the sky is the limit for both as Carolina attempts to regain their footing atop the NFC South division.