Kelvin Benjamin Suffers Torn ACL, To Miss Entire 2015 Season

The Carolina Panthers hopes of repeating as NFC South champions just took a massive hit.

The team announced late in the afternoon that wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, fresh off a hugely successful rookie campaign last season, suffered a torn ACL in training camp practice Wednesday. The injury will force Benjamin to miss the entirety of the 2015 season.

Kelvin Benjamin To Miss Entire 2015 Season with Torn ACL

The former Florida State standout sustained the injury while running a route without any contact. As he was making a cut, his right knee buckled and immediately he collapsed to the ground clasping his knee. The initial diagnosis was a sprain but an MRI later in the day confirmed the worst fears of coaches, teammates and fans of the Panthers alike.

Benjamin emerged as not only a favorite target of quarterback Cam Newton in 2014, but also one of the top rookie pass catchers in the NFL. He was one of only three first-year wideouts to finish with over 1,000 yards receiving, joining Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and the New York Giants Odell Beckham, Jr. to achieve that feat. He also caught nine touchdowns which was tied for 12th in the league with Emmanuel Sanders of the Denver Broncos.

He took advantage of the Panthers sneaking into the playoffs as NFC South champs despite a 7-8-1 record. In the team’s divisional round match-up with the Seahawks, Benjamin shined. Even though Carolina fell to the eventual Super Bowl runners-up 31-17, Benjamin would finish the game with seven receptions, 75 yards and two touchdowns. Those were incidentally Newton’s only passes on the game which resulted in a score.

The news certainly puts a major dent in Carolina’s postseason ambitions. Benjamin accounted for slightly over a quarter of the Panthers overall production in the air. They may need to expand tight end Greg Olsen’s responsibilities in the passing game, which is easier said than done considering he had the exact same number of receiving yards as Benjamin last year. Rookie second-round pick Devin Funchess might also be expected to see an expanded role but he himself is dealing with a hamstring injury sustained in practice Wednesday.

Whichever way you look at it, uncertainty at a position that was expected to be a strength for the team now abounds in Carolina.

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