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Panthers’ Tavarres King catches attention with best performance yet

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/10/18/37/G6bkz.Em.138.jpeg|191
    David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
    Carolina Panthers receiver Tavarres King (12) makes a reception past the Buffalo Bills' Kamaal McIlwain (41) in the second half of Friday’s preseason game at Bank of America Stadium. Buffalo won, 20-18.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/10/18/37/1eW67v.Em.138.jpeg|500
    David T. Foster, III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
    Carolina Panthers receiver Tavarres King (12) and Marvin McNutt (15) conduct a passing drill after morning practice at training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., on Thursday, August 7, 2014.

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SPARTANBURG Panthers receiver Tavarres King doesn’t make wishes when the clock strikes 11:11, he says a prayer.

Every 11:11 that he’s awake, he thanks God for his blessings and reflects on his day.

At 11:13 a.m. Sunday, King sat inside the Wofford College student union reflecting on his best statistical performance on an NFL stage. Against Buffalo in Friday’s 20-18 loss, King caught all four passes intended for him and tied the game-high with 50 receiving yards.

It was the kind of game a player like King needs to go from on the bubble to securely on the final 53-man roster.

“I just wanted to do everything that I could to not only help myself but help this team,” King said. “The object of everything is to win the game. As a competitor that’s what you want to do. When I came in we were down. I was just trying to do everything I could to help us win.”

King entered the game with 4 minutes, 15 seconds left in the third quarter and made an immediate impact. He caught a deep pass from Joe Webb after sneaking behind a cornerback and gained 52 yards. But the play was called back because of a David Foucault holding penalty.

No matter: Webb and King connected on the next play for a 7-yard catch. After another penalty – this time a false start by center Brian Folkerts – King got a first down with an 18-yard catch and walked back to the huddle with a strut.

“Yeah man, you start feeling good when you’re making plays like that, especially when they’re consecutive,” King said. “I felt good, felt confident. I was just trying to win.”

King followed up his exhibition performance with a solid day at a rainy practice Sunday. He made three catches, including one deep pass from Cam Newton and one sliding to the ground during team drills.

King’s recent play has reinforced for coach Ron Rivera why the team picked up the former Georgia Bulldogs receiver off waivers from Denver last year.

Receivers coach “Ricky Proehl really liked him coming out” of college, Rivera said. “Ricky did a lot of work on him, and when he became available he went to Dave and his group and said, ‘Hey, can we claim this guy?’ Dave and his guys went back and looked and what they had wrote up and Dave felt strongly enough to bring him in.”

King came to Carolina in October but was inactive for the 10 games he was in Charlotte. He’s fighting for one of two or three receiver spots behind Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant.

He also is battling injury. King missed three practices with a hamstring injury last week after three good practice days, and admitted the injury hasn’t gone away completely.

Rivera said last week King’s injury was reminiscent of David Gettis, a former Panthers receiver who couldn’t stay healthy to secure a roster spot after a good 2010 season. The team released him last year.

King knows he must play through his injury to make the final roster.

“It’s still something that’s there, it’s lingering, but I’m going to fight through it and just continue to get treatment and get better,” he said.

With one exhibition and several good practices under his belt, King is developing into what Proehl and Rivera hoped he could become back in October.

“This is what we thought he could be,” Rivera said. “He’s not anywhere near where we need him, but he’s working that way and he most certainly has everybody’s attention.”

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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