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Carolina Panthers

Panthers await word on extent of Benjamin injury


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Panthers are hoping that a knee injury sustained by wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in Wednesday's joint practice with the Miami Dolphins isn't serious.

"The early word is that it's a sprain, as of right now," head coach Ron Rivera said. "They're going to take him up (to Charlotte) to get an MRI. That's all I know.

"Preliminary, it's a sprain unless they see otherwise on the MRI. They'll let me know later today."

Benjamin, a 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie last season, suffered the injury in a one-on-one drill against Dolphins safety Reshad Jones. He went to the turf when he cut to come back toward the quarterback. There was no notable contact between Benjamin and Jones.

Benjamin remained down for several minutes as players on both sides huddled around. He was then helped onto a cart and whisked away from the practice field.

"He just went to plant and make a swim move, and without contact went down," Rivera said. "It was unfortunate. It's one of those things that could have happened in any drill."

Rivera said regardless of the extent of the injury, other receivers must step up. He first mentioned Devin Funchess, a rookie selected in the second round of the 2015 draft, though Funchess suffered a hamstring injury Wednesday.

"I don't think it will change the complexion of what we want to do or how we're going to do it. It's just, who is going to do it? That's the thing," Rivera said. "It just means that a young man like Devin Funchess will get an opportunity to step up until Kelvin is back, and other guys will have to step up.

"Some guys have to step up and take advantage of the opportunity, and hopefully we'll get some positive news later today."

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