Panthers WR Funchess looks to build on breakout campaign

The Sports Xchange

June 29, 2018 at 12:50 pm.

Devin Funchess did little in his first two NFL seasons to erase the perception that he could be a bust.

A second-round draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2015, Funchess did not exactly meet expectations by following up a 31-catch rookie season with a mere 23 receptions in 2016.

Things started to improve last season for Funchess, helped in part by a trade in which Carolina traded away No. 1 wideout Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo at the trade deadline.

That provided an expanded role for Funchess, who at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds could match the size, but not the production, of Benjamin.

Funchess had 21 receptions in the first four games following the departure of Benjamin and finished the season with 63 catches and a career-best eight touchdowns.

Now, as he enters the final season of his four-year rookie contract, the former University of Michigan standout knows he must continue to raise his game.

“I’ve got to build on what I’ve had and just be more successful in all areas of the game,” Funchess told SiriusXM Blitz on Thursday. “I preach versatility … in whatever you do. When (Benjamin) left, I assumed the role of the X position. Other than that, I know every position of the offense. I’m just trying to move over to the other side and take the reins from there.”

The Panthers continued to revamp their wide receiving corps in the offseason, using their first-round pick to draft Maryland’s D.J. Moore and acquiring speedster Torrey Smith in a trade with Philadelphia.

“We’ve got a lot of competition,” said Funchess. “Everybody brings something different to the table. … Camp is going to tell the tale. You’ve got speed, you’ve got explosiveness and you’ve got a lot of energy. It’s going to be fun, and I can’t wait.”