Panthers wide receiver position remains in state of flux
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Panthers are looking for ways to give a boost to a wide receiving corps that remains in a state of flux less than two weeks before the season opener.
So the team acquired wide receiver Kevin Norwood from the Seattle Seahawks on Monday in exchange for an undisclosed 2017 draft choice. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Norwood was a fourth-round draft choice by the Seahawks in 2014. He caught nine passes for 102 yards in nine games as a rookie.
''Kevin gives us another player to compete at the wide receiver position,'' general manager Dave Gettleman said in a press release Monday. ''He has the size you look for along with toughness and smarts.''
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said earlier Monday he hasn't decided who'll start at either receiver position in the wake of the injury to Kelvin Benjamin nearly two weeks ago.
Philly Brown can't seem to hold on to the ball - he's dropped five passes in the last two preseason games, including a pair of would-be touchdowns - while veteran Jerricho Cotchery injured his groin last week and remains out of practice and rookie Devin Funchess felt his hamstring tightened up on him late in practice.
Outside of Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn Jr. has been Carolina's most consistent player in the pass receiver, although the eight-year NFL veteran is certainly not a lock to start.
''We're still working through a lot of things right now,'' Rivera said before the trade.
Rivera has been high on the Panthers depth at wide receiver throughout the offseason, but that has been tested with Benjamin out with a torn ACL in his left knee.
The Panthers had hoped the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Brown would be ready to step in and replace Benjamin, but the former Ohio State standout has been targeted nine times and has only one catch for 5 yards. He dropped two more balls in practice Monday.
Rivera said he hasn't lost faith in Brown, who had 21 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns as an undrafted rookie last season.
Brown has been working closely with wide receivers coach Ricky Proehl, a former NFL player, to get back on track.
''Ricky pointed it out after watching film that Corey needs to attack the ball,'' Rivera said. ''If you look at the drops he had, he was waiting for the ball to come to him.''
Normally Rivera rests his starters for the final preseason game, but said Brown and a few others will play Thursday night at Pittsburgh because they have something to prove with roster cuts coming.
Ginn said earlier in the day before the trade that he felt Carolina's wide receiving corps had plenty of talent, but added ''we have to use it.''
''We are all good in our own ways,'' Ginn said. ''I think we're all number one (receivers). We have to go out and play like number ones.''
Funchess is the guy the Panthers really want to see emerge, but Rivera acknowledges the team simply hasn't seen enough of him to get a good evaluation. He missed a large chunk of training camp and hasn't played in the preseason due to the hamstring problem.
''The more he practices, the more he gets on the field, the more we'll know about that role,'' Rivera said.
Rivera said Cotchery, who started opposite Benjamin last year, tweaked his groin against New England but is expected to be ready for the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept 13. It's unclear if he gets his starting job back to begin the season.
NOTES: Rivera said backup defensive back Colin Jones's groin injury is ''worse than a tweak'' and will see a specialist. ... Defensive end Charles Johnson and defensive tackle Kawann Short will see their first action of the preseason against the Steelers.
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