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Panthers’ Kelvin Benjamin showing plenty of upside

Scott Fowler is a national award-winning sports columnist for The Charlotte Observer.
    David T. Foster, III -
    Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton (1) and Kelvin Benjamin (13) slap hands and laugh after a play during Tuesday’s training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
    David T. Foster, III -
    Carolina Panthers' Kelvin Benjamin (13) makes a reception after the Wednesday morning session of training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

SPARTANBURG Sometimes at training camp you have to read between the lines to understand what is going on.

Take the way Carolina Panthers players and coaches talk about wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, their No. 1 draft pick in 2014, and Kony Ealy, the defensive end that Carolina drafted in the second round.

With Benjamin, teammates and coaches are always throwing around superlatives and talking about he can go up and get the ball and how quickly he has caught onto everything. With Ealy, the Panthers are careful never to say anything negative, but there’s a lot of talk about the “transition” to the NFL and the “learning process” and “the caliber of competition” and so on. Suffice it to say that Benjamin is a lot more likely to make a big impact in 2014 than Ealy, who also has the disadvantage of playing a more crowded position.

•  On Wednesday, Benjamin barely got the ball in team drills. But that seemed more like a conscious effort to spread the ball around to other receivers than anything else.

Benjamin continues to be the most impressive part of this camp to me. It has become obvious that the Panthers’ defensive backs cannot guard him, especially near the goal line. That says something about Benjamin, for sure – but also about the Panthers’ defensive backs.

•  The day Benjamin had Tuesday I thought was on par with the sort of day Steve Smith had just about every day in Spartanburg when he was at his peak in the mid-2000s.

•  You have to hand it to Panthers president Danny Morrison in one respect: No one does more for the organization to try and engage fans on a one-on-one basis.

Morrison worked his way down a white fence at training camp Tuesday for more than an hour, talking to fans one at a time about the team. It was the sort of thing a politician might do, but Morrison isn’t running for anything. That’s just the way he is, and why he routinely visits random tailgate parties every Sunday during the season.

Fowler:; Twitter: @scott_fowler
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