SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The Panthers are breathing a sigh of relief over rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said an MRI revealed the team’s first-round draft pick has a bone bruise in his left knee and will miss at least a few days of training camp.
“We got a bit of good news,” Rivera said Monday. “It’s stable and everything is fine. There’s nothing structurally wrong. It is bruised. There is a swelling and what we refer to as a hot spot.”
Rivera wouldn’t give a specific timetable on Benjamin’s return.
He said it should take a “few days” for the swelling to subside, but the Panthers will play it by ear and lean largely on how Benjamin feels before putting him back on the field.
“It is a matter of getting the bone to calm down and get the swelling out and get him back on the practice field,” Rivera said. “It’s just a matter of time and getting him comfortable with it.”
That’s good news for the Panthers, who view Benjamin as a key component in this year’s offense.
Benjamin has been running with the starters at training camp.
He has been catching everything in sight and trying to adapt to quarterback Cam Newton, who is coming off an ankle injury. Rivera said Benjamin needs as many reps as possible being a rookie.
“He’s had a great camp,” Rivera said. “He came in in tiptop shape and ready to roll. He’s one of those guys who spent time with Cam (before training camp) working out.”
Rivera said Benjamin injured the knee on Sunday when he “bumped knees” with another player.
Benjamin finished the practice and Rivera mentioned nothing about the injury after practice. When Benjamin reported for treatment on Monday morning, trainer Ryan Vermillion decided to send him to Charlotte, North Carolina to have an MRI as a precautionary measure.
Benjamin was the 28th overall player drafted.
He caught 54 passes for 1,011 yards and 15 touchdowns last year for Florida State, including the winning touchdown against Auburn in the national championship.
NOTES: The Patriots claimed running back Tyler Gaffney on Monday, one day after the Panthers waived the injured rookie. Gaffney was Carolina’s sixth-round draft pick this year.
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