Carolina Panthers Rookie Training Camp Progress Reports
With 10 days of training camp now in the books, it's time to finally begin reviewing how each player is progressing through the offseason.
Although every player's performance will be under review, it is the rookies who will be most closely scrutinized—and the Panthers have plenty of those.
Carolina is hoping for several undrafted rookies to push the players ahead of them to higher levels, and they are also hoping for each of the five remaining drafted rookies to push for starting spots.
Ahead, we'll take a look at which rookies are making the best of their opportunities and which are leaving the coaches disappointed.
Kelvin Benjamin, Wide Receiver (First Round, 28th Overall)
Throughout camp, there have been nothing but positive reviews of the young receiver out of Florida State.
Kelvin Benjamin came in with all of the physical talent that the team looks for in a receiver, but there were questions about his hands and route-running ability.
It's fair to say that he's put those worries to rest for the coaching staff and has continued to make spectacular catch after spectacular catch during camp, earning the praise of all bystanders.
Another plus from this camp has been Benjamin's communication with quarterback Cam Newton. The two are working relentlessly to ensure that they're on the same page by the start of the preseason.
Kony Ealy, Defensive End (Second Round, 60th Overall)
Kony Ealy's teammates know the phenomenal talent he is, and they're making sure that they get everything out of him, even if it takes some ribbing and tough love.
Ealy is the primary backup to star defensive ends Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, so it's easy to imagine why the players are pressuring him to give his full effort every day; he has a lot to live up to.
In individual drills, Ealy has shown great athleticism and pass-rushing skills, but he needs to put it all together during team drills if he's to really begin digging into Johnson's or Hardy's playing time.
However, Ealy is definitely improving, and the effort is getting better and better, which is a great sign moving forward.
Trai Turner, Guard (Third Round, 92nd Overall)
From the very beginning of training camp, it was evident that Trai Turner would win the starting job at right guard. His physical strength is not the only thing impressing teammates and coaches, though—his maturity has been a sticking point for Ron Rivera.
Turner isn't a big talker and seems to really stay out of focus at camp, which is a great thing for a rookie lineman.
The rookie guard out of LSU will be relied upon as a road-grader for this Panthers running game, which should take huge step forward if this interior offensive line stays healthy. Turner's progress may play a large role in determining how high Carolina's offense can fly in 2014.
Tre Boston, Safety (Fourth Round, 128th Overall)
It's difficult to make an impression as a rookie when you've hardly been on the field long enough for coaches to evaluate you.
In his first day back at camp, Boston re-aggravated a sports hernia and has been unable to show the Panthers coaching staff the talent that made them high enough on the safety to make him their fourth-round pick.
Bene Benwikere, Cornerback (Fifth Round, 148th Overall)
When, as a rookie, you're in a one-on-one battle with a veteran for a large role on the team's depth chart and pull ahead just a week into training camp, you're doing something right.
Cornerback Bene Benwikere has been excellent during camp and has consistently shown off the ball-hawking skills that led general manager Dave Gettleman to trade up into the fifth round to ensure the team could land the San Jose product.
For now, Benwikere has won the starting job as the team's nickel cornerback over Charles Godfrey, which has to please Panthers fans who could not help but be worried about the position after former nickel Captain Munnerlyn left through free agency.
Benwikere has the ability to make fans quickly forgot about Munnerlyn and he's on the right track.
Philly Brown, Wide Receiver (Undrafted)
Philly Brown came into camp with the knowledge that he would have to contribute on special teams to earn a roster spot, but so far, no returners are impressing the team, and Brown is currently listed second on the team's depth chart at punt returner behind Kenjon Barner.
If Brown cannot separate himself from the pack as a punt returner, then he's likely to be cut before the end of the summer. He simply doesn't have the skills as a receiver to make the roster on those merits alone.
However, an encouraging sign is that Brown has been staying after practice to get in some extra reps and is currently listed on the team's depth chart as a third-string receiver ahead of Kealoha Pilares and Tavarres King.
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