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Devin Funchess is faster than you think


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The heat is on wide receiver Devin Funchess entering his third season, literally and figuratively.

"It was 107 on the heat index," Funchess said after Saturday's steamy training camp practice. "We were all out there dying. We were just out there working, competing, and having fun."

As for the figurative heat – the weight of expectations on the former second-round pick – Funchess isn't fazed by it.

"I don't have anything to prove. I just go out there and play my game," Funchess said. "People keep saying that I have expectations, but I just go out there and play my game. I don't have anything to prove; just go out there and do what I'm supposed to."

On Saturday, he made an incredible juggling touchdown catch on Derek Anderson's deep pass down the sideline, and talked about it like it was simply a play he was supposed to make.

"D.A. threw it up there, and I just had to go get it," Funchess said. "I'm just trying to catch all the passes that come to me."

It's been an impressive training camp for Funchess, who for the second year in a row had been a consistent playmaker at camp. But of course, he and the Panthers would like to see more production than the 23-catch, 371-yard season he posted in 2016.

There are more weapons to involve, like rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, but their arrival should also prove beneficial in creating space and opportunity for Funchess.

"It's just exciting to see where the offense is going," Funchess said. "Getting all the explosive players and positions to go out there and make plays. It's fun, and I'm just trying to be a part of the act."

And Funchess made it clear that he considers himself an explosive player. Ever since the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder ran the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, Funchess feels people have an inaccurate perception of the speed he brings to the field.

"I know y'all don't think I'm fast because of what I did at the combine (4.70 seconds) and all that stuff with a broken toe and pulled hammy (hamstring), but I'm pretty fast," said Funchess, who was clocked at 4.47 at his Michigan Pro Day. "When you come line up against me, you'll see."

Second-year cornerbacks James Bradberry and Daryl Worley have seen it. That duo has pushed Funchess and fellow wideout Kelvin Benjamin day after day, and all of them should benefit from the heated competition.

"They are going to be special," Funchess said of Bradberry and Worley. "They are more comfortable this year and they have their own swag. Just like Mike (Adams) said about Bradberry, he's a silent assassin. He doesn't say anything, he just goes out there and work. Head down and hardhat on. Both of them are going to keep working and keep getting better and better each year."

View photos of Carolina's fourteenth practice at training camp.

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