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Brown, Ginn named starting wide receivers

View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game at the Jaguars.

CHARLOTTE – Head coach Ron Rivera said Monday that "right now" the Panthers' starting receivers for Sunday's season opener at Jacksonville will be Ted Ginn, Jr., and Corey Brown.

Three minutes later, Rivera changed course – sort of.

"Corey – excuse me, Philly – is progressing nicely," Rivera said. "I'm going to call him Philly. Philly catches the ball. Corey is a nice young man."

Shortly after Rivera's press conference, Brown reached out to the Panthers via Twitter and asked that his name be changed back to Philly on the team website after he changed it to Corey in the offseason.

Corey Brown struggled with drops this preseason to put his starting role and possibly his roster spot in jeopardy. But as an undrafted rookie in 2014, Philly Brown caught 21 passes for 296 yards – averaging a team-best 14.1 yards per catch – while having the same number of drops (two) as touchdowns.

"He has showed the confidence you're looking for in the last couple of practices, and he had the catch the other night against Pittsburgh," Rivera said. "He's working himself back in as far as his confidence."

Rivera's confidence in the wide receiver group also is growing as the Panthers piece together their plan in the wake of top receiver Kelvin Benjamin's season-ending knee injury.

"One person doesn't make a team – that's why we are a team," fullback Mike Tolbert said. "Kelvin is a big piece, but at the same time we have guys that can make up for him."

Here are Rivera's remarks on the five receivers who made the 53-man roster, starting with Corey, er, Philly.

On Philly Brown: "Corey knows all three positions, and then the one thing you talk about is Corey's speed. Now he's got to go out and perform, but that's the bottom line. You have to be productive, and you can't miss opportunities."


On Ted Ginn, Jr., a speed receiver and return man back with the Panthers after a one-year absence: "I thought Teddy Ginn had a really nice training camp, did some really nice things. He played the role that we're looking for him to play for us."

On rookie Devin Funchess, who returned from a hamstring injury that cost him two preseason games and caught two passes for 22 yards in the final warmup: "I like the progress we've seen from Devin. He came out and made a couple of nice catches against Pittsburgh and had a good day of work today. … Devin is pushing them (the starters) – as is Cotchery."

On veteran Jerricho Cotchery, who paced Carolina's receivers with four catches in the third preseason game but suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for the finale: "Cotch came out well in the third preseason game, did a nice job of finding the creases, of finding a hole and sitting down and making big catches to keep the chains moving. That's what you're looking for from Cotch."

On Kevin Norwood, a fourth-round draft pick by the Seahawks in 2014 acquired in a trade last week: "I'm real pleased with what we've gotten from Kevin. He's showing that he's a quality receiver that has a chance in our system. … He had a good day today at practice. I had a chance to watch some of the individual stuff that they were doing, and I really liked his route running."

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