Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Laviska Shenault hoping to provide a charge

Laviska Shenault

CHARLOTTE — The Panthers are hoping new wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. can add a little juice to their offense.

In the short term, he'd have settled for a little more power along Interstates 95 and 77 yesterday.

The newest Panther said a planned five-hour drive from Jacksonville to Charlotte on Tuesday (the day after the trade that brought him here) took more than eight hours since he had to make multiple stops along the way to find a reliable charge for his electric car for the nearly 400-mile trek.

"It's been a little, what's the word I'm looking for? A little adventure," Shenault said of the last day of his life. "I was with mom though, so it was good. . . .

"A bunch of the chargers, they don't charge quick, so I charged 30 minutes to get 50 miles. Then I stopped at the next place. They did have some super-fast chargers, took an hour to get full. Once I found that out, I was like ahhh, would have made this a lot easier."

Now that he's here, he has to fill his own tank with a brand new offense, and how the Panthers might incorporate the former second-round pick into it.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said the team viewed the trade (which sent a seventh-round pick next year and a 2024 sixth-rounder) was "an opportunity to get another dynamic playmaker," but the presence of a deep group of receivers meant Shenault was able to come in without the burden of immediate expectations.

"Laviksa's walking into a situation where he doesn't have to be the number one guy right away," Rhule said. "He just has to come in and learn some things. Because we have the other receivers, we don't have a ton of pressure. But we know we need playmakers; we're always going to look for playmakers. An added component of that is not just his ability to run the football, but he can be a really, really physical blocker, which is something that we want."

And that's a dimension the rest of the room might not necessarily share, no matter how talented they are.

The biggest difference with Shenault to the rest of the Panthers receivers is literally his size. He's listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, but he's broad and densely muscled (like a significantly bigger version of Christian McCaffrey).

Laviska Shenault

"My God," former quarterback Jake Delhomme said when he saw Shenault walk on the practice field.

"Honestly, I was kind of shocked," quarterback Baker Mayfield said of his new target. "He's a big dude. Really physical presence. He came out there, obviously, he's learning on the fly for us right now, but I can relate to that. He did well today.

"He has a physical presence. Obviously his athleticism jumps off the tape. Seeing him in person is another thing. We're happy to have him, and just see what he fits in with what he's doing."

The Panthers have a good bit of familiarity with a guy who has only been in town one night. Rhule tried to recruit him to Baylor. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was the quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville when Shenault was drafted 42nd overall out of Colorado. Cornerback CJ Henderson was a teammate with the Jaguars before coming here in a trade last September. Panthers coaching assistant Garrett McGuire, a contemporary in age to Shenault who works with the receivers, was at nearby Cedar Hill High when Shenault was starring at DeSoto High near Dallas.

"He's impressive," Rhule said. "As we go through the process, watching his carry tape, that's not our vision, but when you see him run through contact the way he does, to put him out on the perimeter, it gives an edge to your offense you love to have.

"All the guys that know him, Ben, CJ, they're like 'he's a dog now, he's tough.' He's going to compete. We know he has skills, but he loves to compete."

Shenault knows he has a lot to learn in a short amount of time, but he's eager to get started. He acknowledges the comparisons to Falcons running back receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, and he's fine with that.

But for all the talk about the options he adds to the offense as a guy coming out of the backfield, or running, or blocking, he's a receiver first and foremost. He had 58 and 63 catches in his two seasons with the Jaguars, in offenses that weren't always the most productive.

"Hopefully, I'm able to get in different positions and take the top off, because I'm very capable of doing so," Shenault said.

And as he learns, they can't wait to see him add the physical element that his stature suggests he can provide.

"I'm a hungry player," he said. "I'm a dog. I'll get down and dirty. I'm a tough person. I love this game, love to score touchdowns, love to get the fans lit; that's one of the biggest things."

And if he does that, there will be no lack of electricity.

Related Content